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Tonalism By Philp, Angela

DOI: 10.4324/0123456789-REM1907-1
Published: 26/04/2018
Retrieved: 28 November 2023, from


Tonalism is an often under-appreciated aspect of Australian painting, which developed from the mid-1910s to the 1950s. A technique pioneered by Max Meldrum (1875–1955) it is different to the use of tone developed by artists such as Leonard da Vinci (1452–1519) and Johannes Vermeer (1632–75). Traditionally, European artists worked from dark to light, building up the painted surface to model form and create realistic effects as part of the will to produce illusionistic forms and space on a two-dimensional painted surface. This process is based on closely observed preliminary sketches. In Australia, the technique developed by Meldrum involved the blocking in of tonal impressions with no under-drawing or outlines.

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Citing this article:

Philp, Angela. "Tonalism." The Routledge Encyclopedia of Modernism. : Taylor and Francis, 2016. Date Accessed 28 Nov. 2023 doi:10.4324/0123456789-REM1907-1

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