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Conrad Martensc 1840

by Maurice Felton

Maurice Felton’s small image of his friend and fellow artist, Conrad Martens, is one of the finest of all 19th-century Australian portraits. It goes well beyond the usual superficial likenesses, which rely as much on the costume and jewellery of the sitters for effect as on any subtle characterisations. By comparison, the portrait of Martens is unadorned but extremely finely finished and painterly, while sensitively evoking the character of the man.