Rupert Bunny became one of the most successful artists of his generation, exhibiting to great acclaim in Europe and Australia throughout his lifetime. He remains best known as the creator of grand, sumptuous paintings of Parisian life in the late 19th century, but his oeuvre reflects his rich milieu and the rapidly changing styles of the belle époque. He had an extraordinary ability to assimilate diverse influences – from masters of the European tradition such as Rubens and Velázquez, to contemporaries like Gauguin and Bonnard – into an ever-evolving vision. Above all, Bunny was a splendid colourist, from the subdued pastel hues of his early dream-like pastorals to the vibrant Fauve-inspired paintings of the 1920s. Bunny spent most of his life living in France, returning to his native Melbourne after the death of his French wife in 1933.

Étaples was particularly popular with artists and its art colony attracted a number of painters to the area at the turn of the 20th century. Although broadly international, the colony was made up mainly of English-speakers from North America, Australasia and the British Isles, with up to 30 Australians. The colony had its heyday between 1880 and 1914, after which it was disrupted by World War I.


  • Title: Boat building, Etaples
  • Creator: Rupert Bunny
  • Date Created: circa 1902
  • Location: Etaples-sur-Mer, France
  • Physical Dimensions: 54.5 x 65.4 cm stretcher; 82.2 x 93.0 x 6.0 cm frame
  • Type: Painting
  • Rights: Gift of Philip Bacon 2015. Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program.
  • Medium: oil on canvas
  • Signature & Date: Not signed. Not dated.
  • Artist Country: Australia, France

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