Alice Marian Ellen Bale

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Alice Marion Ellen Bale
Alice Marian Ellen Bale self portrait.jpg
Self portrait
Born(1875-11-11)11 November 1875
Richmond, Australia
Died14 February 1955(1955-02-14) (aged 79)
Melbourne, Australia[1]
EducationNational Gallery of Victoria Art School
Known forPainting

Alice Marion Ellen Bale, or A.M.E. Bale, (11 November 1875 – 14 February 1955)[2] was an Australian artist.


Bale was born in Richmond, Victoria,[1] the daughter of Marian[3] and naturalist William Mountier Bale.[4] She was an only child, and her family had houses in both Kew and Castlemaine.[3] She studied art under Frederick McCubbin and Lindsay Bernard Hall at the National Gallery School 1895–1904. She came to prominence as an artist in Melbourne in the 1920s and 1930s, developing a reputation as one of Australia's pre-eminent flower and still life painters.[5][6] Distancing herself from her fellow female artists who were more aligned with the suffragette movement, Bale preferred to work hard within the constraints of the traditional structures of the art world, and never left Victoria.[3]

An active member of the Pickwick Club of Kew, she would gather with young members, some of whom were fellow Gallery School students, for weekly discussions where they adopted the personas of Charles Dickens' characters. There she developed an intimacy with fellow club member Norman Brown, which came to an end by 1906 with Brown's departure and Bale's reluctance to leave her ordered family life.[3]

As a painter Bale did landscapes and portraits but was best known for her flower studies.[3] She was able to sell her paintings and exhibit in not just Australia but also London and Paris.[3]

Bale edited the Victorian Artists' Society's journal VAS before her efforts to reform the society in 1917 and 1918 and an election loss got her ousted as a troublemaker.[3] Her friend Jo Sweatman, the last remaining female office bearer, was ousted also a few months later on an electoral technicality. They became foundation members of the Twenty Melbourne Painters Society,[3] Bale holding the position of secretary until her death.[7]

She exhibited with the Melbourne Society of Women Painters 1917–1955.[8]

AME Bale Travelling Scholarship and Art Prize[edit]

Bale established the biennial A.M.E. Bale Travelling Scholarship and Art Prize through her will to support Australian artists in perpetuity. The prize "is intended to encourage, support and advance classical training of emerging artists (in their early to mid-career) at any stage of life, who are pursuing the study and practice of traditional art and who desire to study the works of old masters".[6][7]

Three prizes are awarded:[6]

  • Major Award for a Travelling Scholarship (AU$50,000) since 2011[9]
  • A.M.E. Bale Art Prize in the medium of oil and/or acrylic (AU$5,000)
  • A.M.E. Bale Art Prize for Works on Paper (AU$5,000)

Award winners: 2016; 2014; 2012; 2011

In collections[edit]

She has work in the Art Gallery of New South Wales,[10] and the National Gallery of Victoria.[11]


She was a finalist in the Archibald Prize in 1922,[12] and 1924,[13] while 1932 Ernest Buckmaster's portrait of her was a finalist in the Archibald.[14]

External links[edit]

Papers of the Bale family, State Library Victoria

A. M. E. (Alice Marian Ellen) Bale [Australian art and artists file], State Library Victoria

Flowers / A. M. E. Bale, State Library Victoria


  1. ^ a b McGrath, Joyce. "Bale, Alice Marian Ellen (1875–1955)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Australian National University. Retrieved 19 October 2017.
  2. ^ Victoria, Australia, Cemetery Records and Headstone Transcriptions, 1844–1997
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Rankin, Gwenyth (2006). "Rethinking the creative space: Feminism and the 'forgotten' artist". Australian Feminist Studies. 21 (51): 379–388. doi:10.1080/08164640600926107. S2CID 146275296 – via Taylor & Francis.
  4. ^ "William Mountier Bale (1851–1940)". Victoria Museum. Retrieved 17 July 2017.
  5. ^ Perry, Peter (2011), A M E Bale : her art and life (Limited ed.), Castlemaine Art Gallery and Historical Museum, ISBN 978-0-9757388-7-0
  6. ^ a b c 2016 A.M.E. Bale Travelling Scholarship and Art Prize, Glen Eira City Council
  7. ^ a b Guidelines, AME Bale Art Prizes,
  8. ^ Peers, Juliette (1993), More than just gumtrees : a personal, social and artistic history of the Melbourne Society of Women Painters and Sculptors, Melbourne Society of Women Painters and Sculptors in association with Dawn Revival Press, ISBN 978-0-646-16033-7
  9. ^ "2010 A.M.E. Bale Travelling Scholarship and Art Prize" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 16 December 2011. Retrieved 29 May 2018.
  10. ^ "Works by A.M.E. Bale :: The Collection :: Art Gallery NSW". Retrieved 24 August 2019.
  11. ^ "A. M. E. BALE | Artists | NGV". Retrieved 24 August 2019.
  12. ^ "Archibald Prize Archibald 1922 finalist: Portrait Miss Jo Sweatman by A M E Bale". Retrieved 24 August 2019.
  13. ^ "Archibald Prize Archibald 1924 finalist: Miss Clive Walsh by A M E Bale". Retrieved 24 August 2019.
  14. ^ "Archibald Prize Archibald 1932 finalist: Miss AME Bale by Ernest Buckmaster". Retrieved 24 August 2019.