Talk:WikiJournal of Humanities/Hilda Rix Nicholas

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WikiJournal of Humanities is an open-access, free-to-publish, Wikipedia-integrated academic journal for humanities, arts and social sciences topics. WJH WikiJHum Wiki.J.Hum. WikiJHum WikiHum WikiHumanities Wikijournal of Humanities Wikiversity Journal of Humanities WikiJournal Humanities Wikipedia Humanities Wikipedia Humanities journal Free to publish Open access Open-access Non-profit online journal Public peer review

<meta name='citation_doi' value='10.15347/wjh/2019.004'>

Article information

Author: Hannah Holland[i]ORCID iD.svg  , et al.

Hannah Holland; et al. (27 November 2019), "Hilda Rix Nicholas", WikiJournal of Humanities, 2 (1): 4, doi:10.15347/WJH/2019.004, ISSN 2639-5347, Wikidata Q83927674


Plagiarism check

Artículo bueno.svg Pass. - WMF copyvio tool using TurnItIn. Flagged items were common phrases (e.g. "collection at the Société des Peintres Orientalistes Français") properly attributed quotes. T.Shafee(Evo﹠Evo)talk 04:02, 21 August 2019 (UTC)

Peer reviewer 1

Review by Anonymous , PhD in Art; Professor of Art.

These assessment comments were submitted on , and refer to this previous version of the article

  1. The use of the term 'Heidelberg School' is no review of longer current: the author should use the term 'Australian impressionism'.
  2. There is an over-reliance on Jeanette Hoorn's book. The author should look at: Roger Benjamin's review: 'Hilda Rix Nicholas and Elsie Rix's Moroccan Idyll', Australian and New Zealand Journal of Art, vol. 14, no. 2, 2014, pp. 222-225.
  3. On Hilda Rix Nicholas's Moroccan paintings, the author should look at John Pigot, Capturing the Orient: Hilda Rix Nicholas and Ethel Carrick in the East', Waverley City Gallery, Waverly Victoria, 1992.
  4. On Hilda Rix and wartime, the author should look at 2 publications: Catherine Speck, 'Painting Ghosts: Australian women artists in Wartime', Craftsman House, 2004, chap 3 and 5; and Catherine Speck, 'Picturing War's Affects on the homefront during the First World War', in Ann Murray (ed) Constructing the Memory of War in Visual Culture since 1914, Routledge, New York, 2018, chap. 3.
  5. On Hilda Rix and Paris, the author should look at: Catherine Speck, 'The brilliant early years', in Tracy Cooper-Lavery, Hilda Rix Nicholas: The Man for the Job, Bendigo Art Gallery, Bendigo, Victoria, 2010, pp. 65-73.
  6. On the Australian War Museum's (as it was called) purchase of her painting, the author should look at Catherine Speck', 'The Australian War Museum, Women Artists and the National Memory of the First World War', in When the Soldiers Return 2007 Conference Proceedings, pp, 277-290 available in Informit.
  7. The Bendigo exhibition - see note 5, should be added in the final paragraph.
  8. There is no evidence that Hilda Rix met Matisse - this point needs to made
  9. Roger Benjamin, in his review, noted above, says there is an error in 'the Renoir in Tangiers blunder being repeated in the current Wikipedia entry on Hilda Rix Nicholas.' I suggest you send this entry to Prof Roger Benjamin at the University of Sydney to sort this out.


  1. Agree. Language revised
  2. Reviewed both Benjamin's review, and Hoorn's response (and Benjamin's apology). Where other texts add to, or give a different view from, Hoorn's account, they have been added, as per the subsequent items in this review.
  3. Reviewed Pigot's exhibition essay. Changed text to capture contrast between Pigot and Hoorn's approach to orientalism: see this edit
  4. Reviewed Speck 'painting ghosts', and added and revised context and reception of war art. See these edits
  5. Reviewed Speck exhibition essay, and added a couple of details re Paris. See this edit
  6. Reviewed Speck conference paper, and changed the account of the purchase of work. See this edit in particular.
  7. Agree. added
  8. Agree. Language around this has been revised. See this edit and this edit
    Update. I had thought this to be correct, but have now read two more recent publications by Hoorn. I think the circumstantial evidence, together with the photograph, discussed in Hoorn's papers Painting Portraits in Private (Third Text) and Women and Men in Public Space (Hecate) indicates that there is evidence that they met. I am actually surprised by how cautious Hoorn remains in her articles, given the weight of evidence (which she does clearly lay out). Unless someone can provide a positive alternate identity for the man to the right of the Moroccan man in the photo, the conclusion from the evidence seems to me overwhelmingly obvious. I'm not sure why authors in the sector seem so concerned about whether or not the two met. Am I missing some significance of all this? Hamiltonstone (discusscontribs) 11:33, 27 September 2019 (UTC)
  9. This has been sorted out. As the authors agree, Rix Nicholas went to Tangiers, while Renoir went to Algiers.See this edit I have also inserted a footnote about the correction, so this doesn't get put back in by another editor in Wikipedia in future. See THIS EDIT
That concludes my initial response to the peer reviewer. The edits as a whole can be seen in this diff. Happy to discuss further. Hamiltonstone (discusscontribs) 12:02, 4 September 2019 (UTC)

Peer reviewer 2

Review by Anonymous , PhD; Professor of Art.

These assessment comments were submitted on , and refer to this previous version of the article

  1. I have several comments. As far as I know Hilda never used her second husband’s name . She did not sign using the name Wright and appears to have only use Hilda Rix Nicholas. So I would take out the reference ‘later Wright’ The suggestion that she was also known as Rix Wright on p.10 seems unlikely as this was the name of her son.
  2. P1Frederick McCubbin was indeed a member of the Heidelberg School and this is accurate for the period as well as today. I therefore disagree with the previous reviewer's suggestion it is more accurate to call McCubbin and Australian Impressionist. He was both a member of the Heidelberg School and also might be called an Australian Impressionist but not everyone would agree with the latter. I would stick with Heidelberg School.
  3. P.2 the city is now referred to as Tangier not Tangiers which is considered colonial. Both spelling appear in the entry but the former is correct and the ‘s’ should be dropped
  4. P.4 Hilda also studied at Colarossi’s remaining there the longest of all the schools in which she was enrolled overseeas. She refers to Mr Colarossi in letters. I believe this was the most formative of the foreign schools in which she studied. Colarossi’s took female students and allowed them to sketch from nude male models and we know that she did work from nude models there. Matisse attended the school at this time too as it allowed established artists to work from their models for a small fee.(See reference to this in my more recent articles listed at the end).
  5. P.5. Matisse and Rix used the same models plural- not just one model as stated. The models Matisse calls Amido and Zora were also used by Hilda Rix.
  6. P.10 I am not sure of John’s use of word didactic. Perhaps, conventionally academic, or conservative modern are better ways of describing her later style ? The Fair Musterer is a portrait of one of Rix’s governesses. In Australia young men and women from elite backgrounds from both country and city frequently spend a year or two after school as what are called Jackaroos or Jillaroos. The Fair Musterer is one of these. Not really a farm worker more a visitor enjoying a rural experience. The Fair Musterer has a bob and is therefore something of a ‘new woman’. The title is intended to be tongue in cheek.
  7. P.11 In Australia there was a large gulf between radical modernist artists and the conservative moderns. She became one of the latter. This fed into the fascism of the inter-war years with the Third Reich calling radical modernists ‘primitive and savage’. She was by no means the only prominent artist to join the right wing. All of the majo rmale Australian artists became fellow travellers. But there is no doubt she left behind her experiments with post-impressionism though the colourful large blocks of flat colour in many of her compositions still reflect a postimpressionist style.
  8. P.10 Roy De Maister experimented specifically with Synchromy rather than simple abstraction.
  9. P.11 I don’t there is any evidence for the claim that her first husband’s death drove her to conservative nationalism That was surely in response to the conservative culture of the Monaro in the 30s and 40s and reflected the politics of the second husband rather than the first! First husband was a gentle soul who sort her out because he had seen her art in France somewhere. The second was a straight up and down farmer less interested in art and a conservative I gather.
  10. P.11. A few works went into public collections during her lifetime but it was not until the publication of John Pigot’s book and then Hoorn's Morocco book that a large number went into public collections such as National Gallery of Victoria, National Gallery of Australia, the Ballarat Art Galllery, the Bega Art Gallery. Following the appearance of Moroccan idyll almost all of the Moroccan work is now in public collections
  11. P.16The last source has Julie Peterson as the editor of Une Australienne. In fact Hoorn, Taylor and Peterson are co-editors of the book so Taylor's chapter in the book should be cited as follows with the three of them as co-editors. Taylor, Elena (2014). "An Australian in Paris", in Jeanette Hoorn,Julie Petersen and Elena Taylor (eds.). Une Australienne: Hilda Rix Nicholas in Paris, Tangier and Sydney. Sydney: Mosman Art Gallery. pp. 9–21. ISBN 978-09808466-5-2.

  1. I agree that Hilda herself did not (as far as I know) use her second husband's surname in public life. However, it was used by contemporaneous sources to refer to her. For example, this article from The Argus in 1934 or this from The Age in 1949. It does appear the case that all such references in the press would also remind the reader that she was also known as Hilda Rix Nicholas. I'm a bit unsure whether, however, Wright should be omitted in the lede altogether. I do agree that the reference to "Rix Wright" in reference to herself is misleading at best, and have removed it. Hamiltonstone (discusscontribs) 11:20, 26 September 2019 (UTC)
  2. It is hard to know how to address the contrasting views of the two reviewers on this nomenclature. It seems to me that the expression "Australian Impressionism" is perhaps becoming more widespread, but I also can see the case for treating "Heidelberg School" as a narrower term, in terms of the group involved, the geography and the time period. So it would seem possible to say that McCubbin was "Australian Impressionist and member of the Heidelberg School". On the other hand, if one were to follow the commentary of the NGV, it is true that Nicholas was not taught by McCubbin until some years (at least a decade) after the time when the sub-group was painting at Heidelberg, and according the NGV text, McCubbin was not one of three who painted there. I realise that is an overly-literal reading of the use of the name, but I am reaching for ways to weigh up the options. For now, I am leaving it as Australian Impressionism, in part because the term may be more immediately grasped by the article's international audience. Happy to consider further. Hamiltonstone (discusscontribs) 11:34, 26 September 2019 (UTC)
  3. Agree. Have changed, except where "Tangiers" occurs in a citation source. Hamiltonstone (discusscontribs) 11:38, 26 September 2019 (UTC)
  4. I have added that she studied at Colarossi and that Matisse was using the studio's models at that time, and ran an open studio. At this stage, I cannot identify a published source to support the view that it was "the most formative of the foreign schools in which she studied" - I don't doubt the reviewer's assessment, but the article has to be confined to the published sources. The Hoorn articles establish that she studied there but (unless I missed it), they don't establish its preeminence, while Taylor's chapter in Une Australienne does not mention Colarossi at all. Hamiltonstone (discusscontribs) 13:03, 26 September 2019 (UTC)
  5. Agree. Changed. Hamiltonstone (discusscontribs) 13:11, 26 September 2019 (UTC)
  6. This is one of several of the reviewer's observations and arguments that, while I am broadly sympathetic, I feel somewhat hamstrung by the necessity that the article can only make statements based in the published literature and sometimes I am unsure of where the ideas expressed by the reviewer might be found in print. I have removed the references to her work as "didactic", in the lede replaced it with a reference to "conservative modern". I'm enlightened by the reviewer's points re The Fair Musterer - I have changed the language to refer to "enjoying active rural life", as well as a general reference to women working the land, cited to one of the sources. Hamiltonstone (discusscontribs) 12:19, 5 October 2019 (UTC)
  7. What, indeed, to do about the language around "modernism"? this sentence was clumsy and reductionist: "While Australian artists embraced modernism and addressed the city, Rix Nicholas focussed on representing a pastoral ideal." It has been deleted. The published sources I currently have to hand (which unfortunately don't include Pigot 2000 itself at present) tend not to address directly the modernist split as it applies to R-N's art, while more generally there is the problem of understanding, interpreting and writing about modernism in Australia - I have just been reading Terry Smith's 2002 essay, "What was Australian Modernism?", which problematises many of the academic narratives. I have made a revision to try and address these issues. See this edit Hamiltonstone (discusscontribs) 12:23, 5 October 2019 (UTC)
    Some of the sources in relation to Rix Nicholas and modernism are listed here (also relevant to point 9 below):
    Tracey Cooper Lavery: "[R-N's refusal to conform to gender expecttions] was clearly a factor, but it seems that a number of others affected her later career: her physical isolation, her reluctance to change and accept modernism and other contemporary art movements, and perhaps an assumption by members of the Australian art scene that as a prosperous grazier's wife she was no longer a struggling artist and therefore had less need for financial support than younger, emerging artists."
    Julie Petersen, discussing the period 1918-1921: "Wanting to be critically accepted in the conservative environs of Sydney, Rix Nicholas soon toned down her post-impressionist tendencies given life in Morocco and Etaples"..."Preston returned to Australia greatly influenced by the European modern art movements however Rix Nicholas remained disinterested [sic] in the debates in Sydney over modern art trends and chose to follow a more conservative path".
    Julie Petersen, discussing the period from the mid 1820s: "Upon her return to Australia in 1926, she traded the sophisticated world of Europe for the pastoral conservatism of country Australia, where she found purpose and inspiration in the people and landscape of the Monaro...Despite the fact that women were the major practitioners of French modernism in Australia in the first decades of the 20th Century, Rix Nicholas did not identify as a woman artist or as a modernist but simply as an artist working outside any movement or style."
    Sacha Grishin: "Subsequently [to her 1918 exhibitions] both her feminist tendencies and modernist touches were met with hostility...her subsequent [to marriage to Wright] work, especially in the last three decades of her life where she turned to images of rural life and to the pastoral landscape, found little resonance with the Australian public or art establishment."
  8. Agree re synchromism, though the literature uses all sorts of words to try and characterise de maistre's work generally - modernist, abstract, idiosyncratic... But yes, synchromism is what he was clearly discussing with R-N. Changed. Hamiltonstone (discusscontribs) 13:54, 26 September 2019 (UTC)
  9. What was the role of her first husband's death in her subsequent artist direction, versus influence of rural life and second husband? A couple of sources directly suggest that Matson's death was influential on her subsequent artistic direction. I have included an additional one of these (that is less negative in its view of the effect, than is Speck), while still retaining this perspective in the article. I am also adding the alternative view, about the impact of her move to Delegate.
    Julie Petersen: "Her tragic experiences during the war became integral to her artistic oeuvre and to her eventual concerns for national sentiment"..."Rix Nicholas continued to draw studies of Australian soldiers returned from the war as part of her ongoing memorialisation of her late husband and her growing feelings of nationalism".
    Speck (2015): "Although, this affective intensity dissipates postwar, much of her work turned to honouring her lost husband... These are post-affect, considered paintings, produced at a time when much of her post-war output was national. She had put aside her pre-war international lifestyle and cosmopolitan agenda, … her focus became much more national. Her new subjects included men and women on the land, sheep shearers, jillaroos, and the rural landscape. The ‘shock to thought’ she had endured changed her world and her art."
  10. Agree; added text to that effect in the final section Hamiltonstone (discusscontribs) 11:05, 27 September 2019 (UTC)
  11. All three were described as "contributing authors" but the back page definitely states "Catalogue editor: Julie Petersen". Hamiltonstone (discusscontribs) 11:08, 27 September 2019 (UTC)