Last week we were privileged to be invited to a book launch: Joel Schiff presented his new book “Grace Joel – An Impressionist Portrait” to an audience of friends and interested people at the Grace Joel retirement village (named after the artist).
“Dunedin-born artist Grace Joel (1865–1924) exhibited to acclaim in London and Paris, yet she and her art are relatively unknown today.
Joel excelled at portraiture and mother and child studies, and was skilled in portraying the nude. She received her artistic training in Melbourne, and lived for the mature years of her career in London, where her work appeared at the prestigious Royal Academy, as well as the Paris Salon and the Royal Scottish Academy. She also held a number of solo exhibitions at prominent venues in Australasian, English and European cities. Today she is claimed by New Zealand, Australia and Britain.
One possible reason why Joel’s work has not remained visible is that few details of her personal life survive. Only three letters have been found, and they reveal little of the person who wrote them. Undaunted, author Joel (no relation) Schiff has pulled together from the words of her contemporaries, various newspaper accounts, scraps in other historical archives and close study of her extant paintings a portrayal of this talented woman that is as intimate and engaging as her work. He also sets Grace Joel and her work in the times in which she lived, and the artistic communities of which she was a part.” (From the publisher’s notes.)
Joel Schiff is a good friend (we both worked at the Mathematics Department, University of Auckland for many years). The author of several mathematical monographs, he has a wide range of interests, encompassing asteroids, rocketry, art and painting. Congratulations Joel to an insightful and interesting work.
Published by Otago University Press, Dunedin.
Read commentary by Peter Entwistle in the Otago Daily Times.