Isobel (Iso) Rae
Iso Rae was born in Melbourne and studied at the National Gallery School from 1877-87. A diligent student, she received many accolades and engaged energetically with the program.
Her peers included Tom Roberts, Fred McCubbin and Rupert Bunny. Iso moved to France with her mother and sister in 1887 where she continued her studies in Paris at Académie Colarossi until the family moved to Étaples in 1893. Étaples was then a quaint fishing village and home to a colony of artists. Surrounded by vast open fields tended by Breton in traditional garb, it was a source of wholesome subject matter for many artists.
In Breton Family, Iso has captured a sweet restful moment of a Breton mother with her children taking a break from tending the field. It is a delightful representation of everyday life of Brittany in the peaceful time before the First World War.
‘Many Australian impressionists painted en plein air (like the French impressionists), and is evocative of not just landscapes but the social energies of the time.’1
Iso was a dynamic presence amongst the community of expatriates in Étaples before and during the war, exhibiting in local annual art exhibitions as well as in London, Paris and Australia.
Rae’s Young Girl, Étaples c.1892 was recently acquired by the NGV in 2020 and achieved a record for the artist. This move by a major institution of raising Rae’s representation within their collection is a confirmation of her importance to our national identity; highlighting the significant contributions, narratives and histories of Australian artists living and working overseas.
Click here to view the online catalogue.
1. Tiarney Miekus, An unfinished landscape: She-Oak show sheds new light on classics, The Age, 11 April 2021