painter, was born at Uxbridge, Middlesex, England, on 7 February 1872, second eldest daughter of the ten children of a successful draper and haberdasher and his wife. Ethel Carrick was educated at home; she also attended drawing lessons with Francis Bate at the Brook Green Studio, London. Between 1898-99 and 1902-03 she was a student at the Slade School, London, where she studied under Fred Brown and Henry Tonks. In 1903 she began exhibiting; she also won the Melville Nettleship Prize for figure composition that year.

Ethel Carrick became involved with a plein air artists’ camp at St Ives, Cornwall, where she met her future husband, Emanuel Phillips Fox. They married in 1905 and moved to Paris, setting up residence at 64 Boulevard Arago, Montparnasse. She often painted in the gardens and her work from this period is replete with images of the bourgeois leisure scene. The Foxes were keen travellers, making painting trips to the south of France, Spain, the north of Africa and Italy which yielded a large body of beachside, waterfront and marketplace images. In 1908, and again in 1912, they visited Australia. On the second visit Ethel declined to join Emanuel’s family in Melbourne, remaining in Sydney at the theosophical retreat, the Manor, at Mosman.

Together the Foxes travelled to Tahiti and were there at the outbreak of World War I. They returned to Australia where they found themselves virtually trapped for the duration of the war. Shelving their personal problems, they worked to organise an exhibition and art union at the Athenaeum Gallery, Melbourne, to raise money for the purchase of a lorry for the French Red Cross. Emanuel fell ill and died in 1915, aged fifty. Ethel returned to Paris during the 1920s; by 1925 she was planning to tour Emanuel’s work in Australia where it was still little known. While always maintaining her own practice, she worked tirelessly throughout her life to promote his reputation in this country.

Travelling and painting continuously, she availed herself of the worldwide network of theosophical retreats. For a time she lived on a houseboat in Kashmir, but generally was based in Paris or Sydney. (An undated oil painting of the Glass House Mountains in Queensland was offered by Christie’s Australia at Melbourne on 7 May 2003, lot 368) During the 1940s she maintained a studio near Circular Quay in George Street, Sydney, where she also held classes. Her forte was outdoor figure compositions and she preferred to work directly from life, although in 1928 she was awarded the Diploma of Honour at the Bordeaux International Exhibition for her painting Summer Is Here, Manly Beach (1913), one of the few studio pictures she made.

There have been problems with attributing some works to either Ethel or her husband as she used a repertoire of signatures, including 'Carrick’, 'Ethel Carrick’, 'E. Carrick Fox’ and 'E. Phillips Fox’. The last, predictably, is the site of confusion; she probably adopted it deliberately as a strategy for survival.

Ethel Carrick Fox was a complex, independent, hard-working, resourceful woman whose chief interests, apart from securing recognition for her late husband’s work, were travel and work – or travel in order to work. She died in Melbourne on 17 June 1952 at the age of eighty, having just arrived there from Paris.

Howe, Elin
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