Wall vase, cast in likeness of staghorn fern, lead alloy, Lucien Henry, Sydney, Australia, 1880-1891
Lucien Felix Henry was born in 1850 in Provence, in the south of France. He arrived in Paris to study art in 1867 and was accepted into Gerome's studio at the Ecoles des Beaux Arts. His studies were disrupted by the Franco-Prussian War and the siege of Paris. He played a leading role in the popular movement to defend the Paris Commune in 1871 as Chef de la Legion, responsible for the defence of the 14th arrondissement. After their defeat Henry, along with some 4000 other Communards, was incarcerated in the French penal colony of New Caledonia for seven years. In 1879 the Communards were given amnesty and Henry arrived in Sydney.
That year the International Exhibition was held in Sydney, ushering in a decade of prosperous growth within the colony. Henry successfully argued for state involvement in art education and by the end of the decade he had become a widely respected teacher and artist at Sydney Technical College. His Parisian art education had encouraged interdisciplinary work between the arts & industry which he sought to foster locally. His major project was to be a book entitled 'Australian Decorative Arts' for which he made some one hundred watercolour designs between 1889-91. He returned to Paris to seek a publisher although the accompanying text remained largely unwritten, however the severe economic depression of the 1890s made publication of such a lavish work impossible. He died in France in 1896.
Henry relished the possibility of transforming native flora and fauna into decorative forms. As an instructor in art at Sydney Technical College, he championed their use in the decorative arts, design and architecture. His own work draws on the shapes and forms of Australian native plants as the basis of his designs. This wall vase, cast in a lead-based alloy, takes the form of a staghorn fern. It exemplifies Henry's innovative use of Australian motifs.
Designed by Lucien Henry.
Made by Lucien Henry.
Lucien Henry lived in Sydney 1879-1891.