Early Works: Sydney 1946 to 1949 and France and London 1950 Robert Mitchell
attended the National Art School as a returned servicesman with the
Commonwealth Reconstruction Training Scheme to study art, where he spent the years
of 1947 to 1949. Among his teachers were Wallace Thornton, Godfrey Miller and
Phyllis Shillito teaching colour theory. She left a deep impact on the
young student and started his fascination with collage.
This studio scene measuring 56 x 45.5 cm is the first ever oil painting
Robert Mitchell attempted. He inscribed it on the back in 1987: 'My
first oil painting, done from a drawing I did at East Sydney Tech in
1946. I was rejected for CRTS day art course, so did evening class in
drawing. Resubmitted this painting later on with a portfolio of works
and was accepted for 1947 year in Strathfield CRTS annex."
Golden Calm, 1948, pastel and watercolour, 37 x 45 cm. Inscribed verso: "2nd year intermediate art, Strathfield CRTS College, 8 guineas (crossed out) N.F.S." The work was exhibited and listed in the David Jones show in 1948.
This Still Life is highly interesting: Robert Mitchell used mixed media, collage and fabric swatches, 46 x 36 cm, and thus seems to be the earliest forerunner of Robert Mitchell's later collage paintings.
Mitchell entered the Mosman Art Prize with "Landscape of Dee Why" (40 x 45 cm),
showing influences of Bonnard and Van Gogh.
Other influences such as
Picasso's cubism and Matisse start to emerge in his works in the 50s.
From Toronto where Mitchell lived during the 50s, he went on regular
visits to New York and witnessed the emergence of Abstract
Expressionism with Jackson Pollock at the forefront, then Robert
Rauschenberg and Frank Stella.
Robert Mitchell comments on the painting below on the left "Girl sitting at a table":
"Influenced by Bonnard and artist / teacher Wallace Thornton. I started painting like Bonnard. This painting was done in the South of France, Cassis, in 1950. I can see now (1985) that Bonnard "won"; he was deceptive."
Girl, 1950, oil on board, 65 x 50 cm Still Life, oil on board, 46 x 60 cm
Village in France, 1950, oil on board, 47 x 62 cm Still life, oil, approx 70 x 50 cm
Copyright Estate of Robert Boyed Mitchell Created by Banziger Hulme Fine Art 2007