Roy de Maistre (1894-1968)
Noli me tangere (Touch me not), 1952-58
Oil on Canvas
95cm x 67cm
Loaned by Trustees of the Methodist Modern Art Collection
Noli me Tangere (Touch me not)
The figure of Jesus, facing us, towers over the kneeling Mary Magdalene, who has her back towards us. It is still early morning and the sky is red with sunrise. The warm red-brown colour of both the landscape and Mary contrasts with the cool blues, white and greys of Jesus and the rocky garden. The mouth of the tomb, in a reddish stone or brick, is visible on the left.
In addition to this painting, there are two or three other versions of Noli me Tangere, the largest and earliest dating from 1950-51, painted for the Arts Council’s Festival of Britain exhibition of ’60 Painters for 51’, with the others (as well as the Methodist work) being much smaller.
(Seeing the Spiritual – A Guide to the Methodist Modern Art Collection, 2018)
Born in 1894 in Bowrai, New South Wales, de Maistre studied at the Royal Art Society of New South Wales from 1913-16 before attending the Sydney Art School.
‘Little known during his life (the catalogue for his 1960 retrospective drew attention to his unfamiliarity among the general public and the scant attention he received from the art world as well), de Maistre is perhaps largely forgotten today. Yet he is an important figure in the twentieth century art history of his native Australia, and also in Britain) he lived in England from 1938 until his death in 1968). Initially as interested in music as art (he studied both), some of his early work was concerned with the relationship between music and art and he developed an interest in colour which has been compared to a musical approach and which continued to inform his work throughout his life.
He developed a very personal style, combining elements from cubism and traditional realism and can be regarded as one of the century’s major religious artists, successfully tackling the difficult task of painting religious works which are contemporary in idiom but which can stand alongside the masterpieces of the past that so colour and influence our expectations’.
(Seeing the Spiritual – A Guide to the Methodist Modern Art Collection, 2018