Vida Lahey

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Vida Lahey
StateLibQld 1 109636 Artist Vida Lahey, ca. 1924.jpg
Vida Lahey circa 1924 Queensland
Frances Vida Lahey

(1882-08-26)26 August 1882
Died29 August 1968(1968-08-29) (aged 86)
Wonga Wallen St Lucia Queensland
Resting placeSt Lucia Queensland
EducationBrisbane Central Technical College and National Gallery School, Melbourne
Known forstill life; landscape; portrait; art education
Notable work
Canungra,c.1930; Wonga Wallen c.1940; Bedroom at St.Lucia with Dobell Portrait c.1961; Monday Morning in Queensland Art Gallery
AwardsSociety of Arts (NSW) Medal,1945; Coronation Medal, 1953; MBE, 1958.

Frances Vida Lahey MBE (1882—1968) was a prominent artist in Queensland, Australia. She exhibited widely from 1902 until 1965.[1]

Early life[edit]

Frances Vida Lahey was born on 26 August 1882 at Pimpama, Queensland, the daughter of David Lahey and his wife, Jane Jemima, (née Walmsley). She had eleven siblings including conservationist Romeo Lahey. She attended Goytelea School at Southport. She studied painting at the Brisbane Central Technical College under Godfrey Rivers. Her uncle financed a trip to New Zealand in 1902 which inspired some of her earliest exhibited works, as well as helping to set her up to study in Melbourne.[2] She studied at the National Gallery School, Melbourne under Bernard Hall and Frederick McCubbin in 1905 and again in 1909.[3]

During World War I, she travelled to London to be in proximity to her brothers and cousins who were serving with the AIF, as well as to study art when she could.[4][2] She assisted with the volunteer war effort. Following the War, she studied with Frances Hodgkins, in the Colarossi in Paris and in Italy before returning to Australia in 1921.[5]


Watercolour painting by Vida Lahey featuring Brisbane City Hall as seen from Albert Park with the Albert Street Methodist Church steeple to the left (1936)

Vida Lahey was one of the first female artists in Queensland and Australia, who regarded themselves as professionals and who sought to earn a living from practising their art. Vida pioneered art classes for both children and adults in Queensland; and she and Daphne Mayo were responsible for the foundation of the Queensland Art Fund in 1929, which helped to establish an art library and acquire works of art for the state. She travelled to Europe in 1927 for further opportunities to study art.[2] Vida was awarded the Society of Artists (NSW) Medal in 1945, in appreciation of good services for the advancement of Australian art, the Coronation Medal in 1953 and in 1958 honoured with an MBE for services to art.

Later life[edit]

Vida Lahey's house Wonga Wallen was originally built for her brother Romeo Lahey in Canungra, on a spur of the Darlington Range and was completed in 1920. Later the house was moved from the outskirts to the Canungra township on the hill above the present Catholic Church and occupied by her parents David and Jane Jemima Lahey, and then moved again by Vida and her sister Jayne Lahey in 1946 to its present block in Sir Fred Schonell Drive, St Lucia in Brisbane.[1]

Vida remained at the house Wonga Wallen at St Lucia until her death on 29 August 1968 and was cremated. Wonga Wallen was transferred to the sole ownership of her sister Jayne who remained there until a few years before her death in 1982 during which time another sister, Mavis Denholm née Lahey lived in the house. The house was listed on the Queensland Heritage Register on 21 October 1992.[1][3]


A bowl of flowers, watercolour by Vida Lahey (1939)

Vida is known to have painted at least two paintings of the heritage-listed Lahey house, Wonga Wallen, Canungra in the late 1930s and Wonga Wallen Loggia at Canungra in the 1940s both in the collection of Ms Shirley Lahey. Another painting, Bedroom at St Lucia with Dobell portrait, c.1961, was painted by Vida in her St Lucia bedroom.[1]


Vida Lahey is represented in major Australian art galleries, including the National Gallery of Australia. Her painting, Monday Morning[6] is part of the Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art Collection.


'Songs of Colour: The Art of Vida Lahey', Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, 1989.[7]


  1. ^ a b c d "Vida and Jayne Lahey's House (entry 600316)". Queensland Heritage Register. Queensland Heritage Council. Retrieved 1 August 2014.
  2. ^ a b c Lovell, Susan (2008). "'Wanted, a strong girl, able to milk and make herself agreeable': A Eudaimonistic Model for Femininity in the Art of Vida Lahey (1882-1968 )". Australian Feminist Studies. 23 (56): 195–211. doi:10.1080/08164640802020576. hdl:10072/22869. S2CID 141831506.
  3. ^ a b Maynard, Margaret. Lahey, Frances Vida (1882–1968). Australian Dictionary of Biography. National Centre for Biography, Australian National University. Archived from the original on 25 December 2014. Retrieved 25 November 2014.
  4. ^ "Vida Lahey interviewed by Hazel de Berg in the Hazel de Berg collection [sound recording]. [nla.obj-214438572] | Digital Collection - National Library of Australia". Retrieved 6 January 2020.
  5. ^ "A RETURNED QUEENSLAND ARTIST". Queenslander (Brisbane, Qld. : 1866 - 1939). 19 February 1921. p. 6. Retrieved 6 January 2020.
  6. ^ Queensl, ©; Art, Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern. "Monday morning - Vida Lahey". QAGOMA Learning. Archived from the original on 25 March 2019. Retrieved 6 January 2020.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  7. ^ MacAulay, Bettiina (1989). Songs of Colour: The Art of Vida Lahey. QAGOMA Research Library, Brisbane: Queensland Art Gallery. ISBN 0724233067.


CC-BY-icon-80x15.png This Wikipedia article incorporates text from "The Queensland heritage register" published by the State of Queensland under CC-BY 3.0 AU licence (accessed on 7 July 2014, archived on 8 October 2014).