Julian Rossi Ashton CBE (27 January 1851 – 27 April 1942) was an Australian artist and teacher, known for his support of the Heidelberg School and for his influential art school in Sydney. He died at the age of 91.
Ashton was born in Addlestone, Surrey and arrived in Australia in 1878 with a background in the contemporary French realism of the Barbizon School, which emphasised painting en plein air (i.e. direct from nature, as opposed to studio-based painting), and which laid the basis for the Impressionist movement. As a trustee of the Art Gallery of New South Wales he championed emerging Australian artists of the Australian Impressionist or Heidelberg School, and the Gallery's decision to collect these works owes much to his influence. Ashton is known for his paintings "Evening, Merri Creek (1882)," "A Solitary Ramble (1888)" and others.
George Lambert painted a portrait of Ashton which is in the Art Gallery of New South Wales. Lambert showed Ashton, then 77, with white hair and a military-type moustache, dressed in a grey suit and a dapper bow-tie, cigar in hand, sitting beside a table with a mass of objects. The cigar and wine suggest 'good living' and the flowers and fruit may have referred to Ashton's role as a gardener. Behind him there is a deep red curtain draped over a gold picture frame, behind which there is a curtain, creating an abstract arrangement of bold colours, with the frame suggesting Ashton's role as an artist, teacher and patron.
According to James Gleeson, Ashton's oil paintings... (were) very much-admired in his own lifetime (and continue to be so admired today).
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—Ernest Hemingway (18991961)