Robert Bower


The North African paintings of Emanuel Phillips Fox


Phillips Fox visited North Africa in 1911 when his painting was at its best. In a period of about two months, he produced some of the freest and most impressionistic works of his oeuvre.  Frequent title changes since Fox’s death in 1915 and doubts about attribution of some works have limited interest these works until now.  North African works are barely mentioned in catalogues and accounts of Fox’s work.

Bower has catalogued many of the North African paintings using painstaking identification of contemporary images and suggests reversion to the original title for five works, including one in the UWA collection, and a change of attribution for two works.

This is a fascinating forensic saga.


Robert Bower graduated as a dentist from UWA and went on to complete his Master’s Degree in Periodontics.  He taught for two years at U. of London at the Royal Dental Hospital and took full advantage of the hospital’s position back-to-back with the National Gallery and the close proximity of other galleries to expand his knowledge of art.

Bower attributes his early interest in art to encouragement by his mother and by his teachers at Perth Modern School (Frank Mills and Arthur Russell).  Later friendship with John Lunghi, Judith Chambers and Memnuna Vila-Bogdanich while a student of printmaking at Perth Technical College cemented his enthrallment.

Further teaching appointments in the dental schools of the U. of Michigan and of the U. of Umeå (Sweden) contributed to his knowledge of art.

Bower is now semi-retired as a periodontist and able to devote more time to his preoccupation with Australian artists Emanuel Phillips Fox, Guy Grey-Smith and Fred Williams, and with international artists David Hockney and Jim Dine.