Roy De Maistre, Australian artist

Australian art;


Roy De Maistre CBE (March 27, 1894 – March 1, 1968) was an Australian artist with international renown.

Roy ; He is well known in Australian art because of his early experiments with ‘color music’ and is recognized as the first Australian artist to use pure abstraction. His later works were painted in a figurative style that was generally influenced by cubism. His series Stations of the Cross hangs in the Cathedral of Westminster and works by him are hung in the Tate Gallery, London and in the art gallery of New South Wales, Sydney.


In November 1916, as Roi de Mestre, he exhibited for the first time and showed impressionistic paintings dealing with the effects of light.

In 1917 he met Dr. Charles Gordon Moffit of the Kenmore Hospital in Goulburn, with whom he would work on inventing a “color treatment” for shocked soldiers by placing them in rooms painted in soothing color combinations.

De Maistre developed an interest in ‘color-music’, his theory of color harmonization based on the relationship between colors of the spectrum and tones of the musical scale. With his ordered, analytical mind, he applied music theory to his painting. He worked with Adrian Verbrugghen, and then Roland Wakelin to develop a “color-music” theory. In 1919 he held a joint exhibition with Wakelin entitled Color in Art to explain his theories. In this (then controversial) art exhibition the musician-turned painter had opted for harmonious colors such as the notes in music. The exhibition presented ‘color orchestration’, an experiment on the mutual relationship between different shades on the color spectrum and showing on the musical scale. The A note is linked to the color red, for example. The only existing example of this experiment is Rhythmic composition in yellow-green minor (1919), which slowly unravels music through the flow of colors. This “color-music” exhibition became part of the Australian art folklore as “photos that you could whistle”. Influenced by earlier exponents of the “color-music” theory in Europe and America, this exhibition has since been identified as the earliest experiment in pure abstractionism in Australia. His color charts, which show musical notes that correspond to different shades, are now owned by the art gallery of New South Wales, with “color music”

De Maistre was also interested in interior decoration and the way in which the colors in a room can influence the human psyche. During the exhibition of traditional artworks in the exhibition Color in Art, he also added a ‘Color Organization in Interior Decoration’ segment. In this part of the exhibition the Maistre showed a homely interior based on his ‘color music’. Discs and scales to help homeowners integrate color music into their own homes were made available for purchase. In 1924, this color harmonization card was further developed by Grace Brothers and offered for sale in their stores.

Kind regards , Pierre

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