Max Middleton (1922-2013)

Max Middleton enjoyed a long and highly acclaimed career as a professional artist, exhibiting in 68 exhibitions over 66 years. He died in 2013.Max had a great interest in the Australian landscape. As an en plein air painter, he faithfully rendered what he saw. He had an extraordinary ability to capture light on canvas.

Born in Melbourne in 1922, Max knew he wanted to be an artist from the age of 12. At 16 he started lessons in drawing at the National Gallery School, and practiced his oil painting technique on Sunday’s when his father drove him to the country to paint en plein air. Max studied privately with Septimus Power from 1940. Power greatly influenced Max’s early paintings with use of broad brush strokes and patterns of light and shade. Power became both a mentor and a friend to Max, and expressed his confidence in Max’s technical competence by inviting Max to assist with teaching.

In 1950 Max travelled to Europe to see the major museums and train at Heatherleys School in London, and in Florence at the Scala di Bellearti (School of Fine Art). In Europe his key influences were JMW Turner and Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida, both en plein air painters of the transformative effects of light. He painted in Wales, Ireland, Paris and Spain and in the flourishing art community of Cornwall. It was in regional Spain that he chose to paint the people of the area, and since then, the human figure has been a recurring subject in his paintings. Max returned to Australia in 1953, excited to once again be painting landscape in the unique Australian light. He felt liberated by his altered perspectives and adapted his technique and to a style influenced by the European masters.

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