Rupert Bunny (1864-1947)
A Sunny Day 1922
oil on canvas
81 x 54 cm
Gift of Howard Hinton 1933
Rupert Bunny achieved considerable international acclaim during his lifetime and is considered one of Australia’s finest expatriate artists of the era. He is perhaps best known for his sumptuous and colourful paintings of elegant women – capturing the leisure and prosperity of the ‘La Belle Epoque.’
Initially training in architecture and engineering, Bunny’s art education began in Melbourne at the National Gallery School in 1881 where his fellow students included Frederick McCubbin, E. Phillips Fox and Louis Abrahams. He travelled to London and Paris in 1884 where he spent the next few years at various schools and ateliers. Bunny was the first Australian painter to be awarded honours at the prestigious exhibition venue, the Paris Salon, achieving critical and commercial success over the five decades that he remained in Europe.
The early twentieth century brought a shift in Bunny’s painting style and subjects, from idealised Biblical compositions and Classical mythology, to warm-hued scenes of women, summer landscapes and portraiture.
Bunny returned to Melbourne in 1933 after the death of his wife Jeanne Morel. He exhibited with the Victorian Artist’s Society and was an inaugural member of the Contemporary Art Society that was established in 1939. In 1946 a major retrospective of his work was held at the National Gallery of Victoria, the first time the gallery held a major exhibition for a living artist.