Agnes Goodsir

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Agnes Goodsir
Born (1864-06-18)18 June 1864
Portland, Victoria
Died 11 August 1939(1939-08-11)
Paris, France
Nationality Australian
Education Bendigo School of Mines and Industries (1898-1899)
Académie Delécluse, Paris, France (1899)[1]
Known for portrait painting
A letter from the Front/Girl on couch
(1915)

Agnes Noyes Goodsir (18 June 1864 – 11 August 1939)[1] was an Australian portrait painter who moved within lesbian circles in Paris in the 1920s and 1930s.

Goodsir was born in Portland, Victoria, Australia, one of eleven children born to David James Cook Goodsir, Commissioner of Customs at Melbourne, and Elizabeth Archer (née Tomlins).

Her early art training started with Arthur T. Woodward at the Bendigo School of Mines and Industries from 1898 to 1899,[1] and in 1899 some of her work was raffled in Bendigo to partly finance her study in Paris. The years following World War I saw a virtual exodus of Australian artists on a sort of Grand Tour to Paris, all intent on being part of the explosion of the arts taking place there. Painters like Rupert Bunny, Stella Bowen and Max Meldrum were drawn there by the appeal of the Left Bank. Others like Margaret Preston and Grace Crowley were inspired to develop in new directions by post-war Parisian art.[2]

Goodsir attended the Académie Delécluse, the Académie Julian and then the Académie Colarossi. From about 1912 she shuttled between London and Paris, but finally settled in Paris in 1921 at 18 rue de l'Odéon.[3] Her companion was Rachel Dunn,[3] depicted in several of her paintings, such as The Chinese Skirt 1933, Girl with Cigarette 1925, The Letter 1926 and Morning Tea 1925.

Her work was acclaimed and exhibited at the New Salon, the Salon des Indépendants, and the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts in Paris as well as at the Royal Academy and the Royal Institute in London. On a short visit to Australia in 1927 she exhibited at the Macquarie Galleries in Sydney and the Fine Arts Gallery in Melbourne. In 1938 four of her oils were shown at the sesquicentennial exhibition at the NSW National Art Gallery.

Goodsir died in Paris, France in 1939, her paintings were left to her companion Rachel Dunn, who sent some 40 to Agnes's family in Australia and others to Australian galleries.[3]

Goodsir's work showed strong composition and technique, favouring oils over watercolours. Despite turning out a large number of still lifes and interiors, her forté was portraits, including Katharine Goodson, Leo Tolstoy, Ellen Terry, Banjo Paterson, Bertrand Russell, Dame Eadith Walker, Countess Pinci and Italian leader Benito Mussolini.[1] The Goodsir Scholarship of the Bendigo Art Gallery is named in memory of her.[4]

Bibliography[edit]

  • K Quinlan, In A Picture Land Over The Sea: Agnes Goodsir, 1864-1939, Bendigo, 1998

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