Artist & Teacher (1866-1947) , Adelaide.
Text :Liz Hansman
Images: Wikipedia, GFL Fine Art
Marie Anne Tuck was born in Mt Torrens on the 5th September 1866. One of seven children, her ambition was to study art in Paris, France. She worked extremely hard and was completely dedicated , persistent and patient as she tenaciously stuck to her goal.
Her early education was at her Father’s school. She later worked in a plant nursery and a florist’s, studying art with James Ashton at Norwood Art School. To pay for her tuition, she helped Ashton by cleaning his studio. She taught art at night.
Marie went to Perth, again working for a florist and gave private art tuition. She later became Principal of the Perth Art School and finally saved enough to sail to France in 1906. She subtracted 6 years from her age!
In Paris she studied with Australian expatriate Rupert Bunny, this time, not only cleaning the studio as payment , but sweeping snow and fuelling stoves. Bunny was pleased with her art work and helped Marie to exhibit at the “Old Salon”, known as the “Society des Artistes Francais”. Marie enveloped herself in all things French.
She lived in 55 rue du Montparnasse, not far from Bunny’s studio.
Marie admired Bunny and took his advice to use the Summer months to travel outside Paris in search of different subjects. In 1907/1908 she visited Picardy, then in 1909/1910 she lived with a family in Brittany travelling around to capture many rural scenes.
…”Some of Tucks finest works were produced during these Summers, including “Dressing the Bride” , a painting that was awarded an honourable mention at the 1911 Salon”. Ref: 1)
The huge work, “La Poissonnerie ” – (The Fish Market) ,after being exhibited at the Paris Salon, was sent in 1908 to Adelaide for exhibiting in the 11th Federal Exhibition of the (Royal) South Australian Society of Arts.
..”It was purchased for 100 guineas by the National Gallery of SA ..”….Ref: 2.
More paintings were bought by several other galleries including The Australian National University, Canberra, and the Art gallery of New South Wales .
Marie returned to Australia in June 1914 just before WW1 was declared in August 1914. When she heard of the plight of her beloved France she wished she had never left. Marie rejoined the artistic community in Adelaide and began teaching at the South Australian School of Arts and Crafts. She introduced the use of nude models for her life drawing and painting classes.
She was known for her Impressionist style landscapes, and portraits in oils.
“In 1924 Tuck held held her only solo exhibition in Adelaide, showing 83 paintings of both French and local subjects. Very few sold . The Adelaide public’s response was one of complete indifference. She was bitterly disappointed and from then on rarely showed her work. She missed the stimulus of Europe and her Australian works lack the excitement and compositional boldness of her French paintings . Bunny’s influence remains evident in the later work, both in style and in the use of a soft palette…” Ref:3
However, …”her plein air work was praised by the Advertiser at her 1924 and 1933 exhibitions. Marie continued to teach (until 1938), to paint portraits and to execute large religious works including those for Reims Cathedral, France.” Ref.4 Tragically these paintings were all lost during WW2 when the Cathedral was bombed.
Marie never married. She built a small house in Frewville using a front room as her studio and where her. “..students gathered on Saturdays to eat nasturtium sandwiches, drink mulberry wine and talk about Paris……
…She loved music and owned a silver stringed spinet. At work she wore a shift, buttoned in front with loose sleeves; on festive occasions, she chose lavish trimmings.
She was barely 5ft (153cm) tall. Her spiky, grey hair was arranged like a Japanese doll, her face and hands were pale and freckled, her lips thin. What mattered were the eyes, faded with age to a luminous green-grey, the irises rimmed with light. A dedicated and inspiring teacher with a sweet voice, she had many devoted students”…Ref.5
Some of her most noted students were Ivor Hele, Ivor Francis,John Dowie, Dora Chapman, David Dallwitz, Jacqueline Hick , Ruth Tuck, and Rex Wood.
When news came of the German occupation of France in 1940, Marie suffered a stroke. She died at Ashford Hospital on 3rd September 1947 just two days before her 81st birthday.
John Dowie said at her 1971 retrospective .. “she taught us what an artist should be.”…Ref:6
Ruth Tuck :
(1914-2008), water colourist and art teacher was a cousin , but the relationship was
more akin to Aunt and niece. Ruth also became a well known art teacher in Adelaide.
1.). Design & Art Australia Online, Snowden, Betty, 1995 – updated 2011
2.) Design & Art Australia Online, Snowden, Betty, 1995- updated.2011
3.). Design & Art Australia Online, Snowden, Betty, 1995 -updated 2011
4.) Australian Dictionary of Biography, Tuck Ruth. vol 12. MUP, 1990
5.). Australian Dictionary of Biography. Tuck, Ruth Vol 12 MUP, 1990
6.) Australian dictionary of Biography, Tuck, Ruth. Vol 12. MUP, 1990
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