Book review: Plein Airs and Graces

Beautifully illustrated 'treasure' showcases magnificent paintings.
Beautifully illustrated 'treasure' showcases magnificent paintings.

BOOK: Plein Airs and Graces
AUTHOR: Adrian Mitchell
PUBLISHER: Wakefield Press
RRP: $34.95

HAVING read and reviewed Adrian Mitchell's earlier book, Dampier's Monkey (a fascinating account of explorer William Dampier), I looked forward to his latest story.

Mitchell has brought to life another remarkable man, George Collingridge, an accomplished pre-impressionist landscape painter.

Collingridge also had many other talents; a woodblock engraver, cartographer, multi-linguist, art and language teacher, newspaper proprietor, author and publisher.

Born in Oxfordshire in 1842, George lived in Paris, London, Rome, Madrid and finally Sydney where he arrived on the Lusitania at age 27.

French painter Corot had taught him to paint "en plein air" (outdoors) and he developed a passion for trees; the bushland surroundings of Sydney were an ideal setting for him.

Settling in Hornsby, he petitioned for railway stations, roads and postal services in the then outlying northern suburbs, painted, taught and wrote about the early discovery of the colony, as well as children's books - a veritable Renaissance man who is largely forgotten today.

In writing this painstakingly researched and thoroughly engrossing story, Adrian Mitchell has done a great service to Collingridge.

His book is beautifully illustrated with full colour plates of the artist's magnificent paintings of early Sydney.

This is a volume to treasure.

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