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Julian Ashton

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Julian Rossi Ashton (1851-1942) was an English-Australian painter who was prominent at the turn of the 20th century. He is best remembered for pioneering the spread of Australian Impressionism. Ashton spent his youth in England, being born in Addlestone, Surrey. From a young age, he was instructed by his father, Thomas Briggs Ashton, who sold art supplies. Julian Ashton’s art education consisted of studying at the West London School of Art night school, followed by a short period at the Academie Julian in Paris, France. It was during this time (circa 1868-1871) that he worked as an illustrator for several British magazines, including The Chatterbox and Cassells Family Magazine. After his marriage to Eliza Ann Pugh in 1876 and the birth of his first child, Ashton moved to Australia. There he continued his work as an illustrator, working for such publications as the Illustrated Australian News (IAN). In Australia, Ashton exhibited at the Victorian Academy of Artists, the Melbourne International Exhibition, and the Sydney International Exhibition. In 1882 Julian Ashton painted Evening Merri Creek, a somber landscape of a creek that Ashton painted en plein air, or outdoors. Plein air painting was not common amongst artists in Australia. Ashton’s style of being a plein air painter would be influential to future artists such as Charles Conder and Tom Roberts. He opened the “Julian Ashton Art School” in New South Wales in 1890. Julian Ashton rejected the conservative style of Australian art. He believed in establishing a new style that would connect the art worlds of Europe and Oceania through technique and a love for his homeland. Ashton spent the last years of his life in Sydney before dying in 1942.

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