ISBN: 9781863170840 • Publication: April 1, 2001
Visions of a Republic
The Work of Lucien Henry
Edited by Ann Stephen
DescriptionVisions of a Republic presents the extraordinary and little known work of French-Australian artist Lucien Henry (1850-1896), whose vision for an Australian school of decorative arts and design was developed in the period leading up to Australian federation. It places Henry's project for an 'Australian Decorative Arts' in the wider context of other architectural, botanical, design and public-education projects from the late nineteenth to the early twentieth century. Lucien Henry was born in France. His studies at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris were interrupted 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, and following the defeat of the Communards he was incarcerated in the French Penal colony of New Caledonia for seven years. In 1879 the Communards were amnestied and Henry arrived in Sydney.
Visions of a Republic looks at Henry's early art education in Paris and the influence of ideas about the unifying of art and industry current in mid-nineteenth-century France; it follows him into exile in the Pacific, examining the colonial policies of France and Britain in the South Pacific and the effect on Henry of his contact with the indigenous Kanak people; it explores Henry's ambitious project for an Australian Decorative Arts, reproducing his designs for buildings, interiors and objects based on Australian flora and fauna; and charts Henry's role as a promoter of new movements in architecture uniting national and regional idioms with new building technologies. Finally, it looks at the legacy of Henry's work, in particular in the development of the Australian Technological Museum, now the Powerhouse Museum.