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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

Who is Lillie Roberts?

‘The Missis is wood carving and gilding – is doing the frame for my “gem”.  She has come out – begins to think London an interesting place’, wrote Tom Roberts in a letter to fellow artist Fred McCubbin.

1Portrait of Mrs Tom Roberts, 1910 Tom Roberts. 2Self portrait, 1924 Tom Roberts. Art Gallery of New South Wales, gift of the artist at the request of the Trustees 1924.

Elizabeth (Lillie) Sarah Williamson married Thomas William Roberts in 1896. They’d first met in Launceston eighteen years earlier, before the talented young Lillie relocated to Melbourne to study at the National Gallery School, then embarked on the adventure of a European grand tour. During these intervening years Tom also kept himself busy, studying at the Royal Academy, and, with friends, leading a new approach to painting in Australia – en plein air (outdoors). They eventually met again through a mutual friend, and soon after marrying moved to England for Tom’s career. Lillie occupied herself raising their son, and a renewed interest in frame-making became a great outlet for her creativity; her creations were hung at the Royal Academy and commissioned by royalty. This sensitive and affectionate portrait of Lillie by Tom is beautifully complemented by one of her excellent frames.

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.