Neither Violet McInnes nor her ‘Parma Violets’ are shrinking violets. Instead, an emblem of its creator, this work speaks to the still flowering legacy of Modern women artists in Australia.
Born in 1892, Violet McInnes (née Musgrave) studied painting at the prestigious National Gallery School. Here, she honed her aptitude for still-life painting, later earning esteem for her exquisite floral portraits. While women artists throughout this era were relegated to “mere” flower painters by critics, artists like McInnes used this to their advantage. She mastered the craft, recognising the diverse audience who could both relate to and afford her modestly sized, universally appealing floral subjects.
There is a poetic likeness between McInnes and her Parma Violets. This breed, originating in the 16th century in Italy was once believed to be sterile. Proved to be false, it was later found that under right conditions any sturdy violet could thrive. Perhaps, this is more than a lesson in botanics. Like her namesake, Violet McInnes may have been mistaken as fragile, or a lesser artist than her male counterparts. However, beneath her delicate brush strokes lay the talent and tenacity that made this mother-of-six such a successful artist.
‘Parma Violet’ was exhibited at The Sedon Galleries in 1942 and is still in its original Thallon frame. In 2019, McInnes was included in the National Gallery of Victoria’s survey of Modern Australian Women artists and remains a vital addition to the canon of Modern Australian artists.
Violet MCINNES, (1892 - 1971)'Parma Violets', 1942
oil on canvas
Image Size: 24 x 30 cm
Framed Dimensions: 31 x 37 x 3 cm
signed lower right Violet M McInnes and dated 1942
Comes with Letter of Provenance
Exhibition of Paintings by Mrs Violet McInnes, The Sedon Galleries, Elizabeth Street Melbourne 3rd November 1942. Exhibition opened by Lady Latham. Catalogue number 42. In original Thallon frame.
Condition: Very Good