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A suggestive sketch

by
March 2006, no. 279

Nerli: An Italian painter in the South Pacific by Michael Dunn

Auckland University Press, $79.95 hb, 160 pp, 1869403355

A suggestive sketch

by
March 2006, no. 279

Girolamo Nerli, Michael Dunn writes in Nerli: An Italian Painter in the South Pacific, was ‘an uneven painter who ranged from the good to the downright bad’. It says much about the difficult development of the visual arts in Australia and New Zealand that someone with such apparently modest abilities should be worthy of such a lavishly illustrated and comprehensive study – especially in these days of constraint in art-historical publishing. Nerli has generally been depicted as a flamboyant Continental whose European heritage and thick Italian accent imbued him with an authority that made local artists and philistines alike listen receptively to his views. As a foreigner, he was permitted to be ‘irreverent, avant-garde and daring’, in ways denied local artists. Nerli’s place in Australian art history is assured by his association with the Heidelberg School artists, while his brief but influential role as Frances Hodgkin’s teacher secures his place in New Zealand’s art history. In this, the first published extended study of Nerli’s time in Australia and New Zealand (including a foray to Samoa), Dunn seeks a ‘fresh appraisal of the man and his achievements’.

Julie Roberts reviews ‘Nerli: An Italian painter in the South Pacific’ by Michael Dunn

Nerli: An Italian painter in the South Pacific

by Michael Dunn

Auckland University Press, $79.95 hb, 160 pp, 1869403355

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