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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.

Paris to Monaro

Pleasures from the studio of Hilda Rix Nicholas

Previous exhibition from Friday 31 May 2013 until Sunday 11 August 2013
Autumn evenings golden glow, c.1942 by Hilda Rix Nicholas
Autumn evenings golden glow, c.1942 by Hilda Rix Nicholas

After successfully exploring the art scenes of London, France and Morocco, Hilda Rix Nicholas settled at Knockalong, a property near Delegate, on the Monaro plain in the 1920s. In Paris to Monaro the artist's portraits in the landscape will be shown amongst a treasure trove of objects transported from the magical studio she created there.

Emily Hilda Rix, born in Ballarat in 1884, left Australia in March 1907, having trained for three years at the National Gallery School. She, her sister Elsie and their widowed mother Elizabeth proceeded from London – where Hilda studied at the New Art School – to Paris, where she attended art classes at the Académie Delecluse and the Grande Chaumière. Drawings that she made there afford a beguiling peek into life in the professional ateliers of the city. She and Elsie spent several exhilarating periods in Tangier, Morocco, where she made many striking paintings and drawings reflecting her passion for costume. In the expatriate artists’ colony of Étaples, where she spent summers between 1910 and 1914, she painted rustic personalities, buildings and gardens bathed in the soft light of the region.

In London during the First World War she lost her sister and her mother to typhoid fever. She married an Australian soldier, George Nicholas, but he was killed in France within weeks of their wedding. Henceforth, she signed her pictures with his name.

In 1928, Hilda Rix Nicholas began a new life as the wife of Edgar Wright, owner of the grazing property Knockalong, near the town of Delegate on the Southern Monaro. There, she designed a free-standing French-style studio, into which she moved her paintings, drawings, costumes and mementoes of foreign lands. This extraordinary building still stands on Wright family land, its contents largely undisturbed since the death of the artist in 1961.

In this exhibition, objects and artworks from the magical studio mingle and interweave with paintings from public and private collections, to create a composite portrait of Hilda Rix Nicholas and the people, objects and landscape she loved.

9 portraits

1Bringing in the Sheep, c.1936 by Hilda Rix Nicholas. 2La robe Chinoise, c. 1913 by Hilda Rix Nicholas. 3Mrs George Matson Nicholas, c. 1917 by Hilda Rix Nicholas. 4Hilda Rix, c. 1910 unknown photographer.
Ernst & Young
Sponsors - Paris to Monaro

Related people

Dr Sarah Engledow (curator)

Related information

Mrs George Matson Nicholas, c. 1917 by Hilda Rix Nicholas
Mrs George Matson Nicholas, c. 1917 by Hilda Rix Nicholas
Mrs George Matson Nicholas, c. 1917 by Hilda Rix Nicholas
Mrs George Matson Nicholas, c. 1917 by Hilda Rix Nicholas

Paris to Monaro learning resource

Learning resources

This resource, structured around the biography of the artist Hilda Rix Nicholas, is a companion to the exhibition Paris to Monaro.

Tea time, c.1898–1902 by Rupert Bunny (1864–1947)
Tea time, c.1898–1902 by Rupert Bunny (1864–1947)
Tea time, c.1898–1902 by Rupert Bunny (1864–1947)
Tea time, c.1898–1902 by Rupert Bunny (1864–1947)

Impressions

Painting light and life

Previous exhibition, 2011

Impressions: Painting light and life presents portraits by, and of, artists at the heart of Australian impressionism including Tom Roberts, Arthur Streeton and Frederick McCubbin.

Wendy drunk 11pm, 1983 by Brett Whiteley
Wendy drunk 11pm, 1983 by Brett Whiteley
Wendy drunk 11pm, 1983 by Brett Whiteley
Wendy drunk 11pm, 1983 by Brett Whiteley

Idle Hours

Previous exhibition, 2009

Idle hours is an exhibition of luxurious beauty. Paintings, prints and drawings represent subjects in quiet moods and situations arranged according to the time of day they depict - reading, drawing, snoozing, bathing, sewing, gardening, sitting, looking, making love and spending tranquil time with companions. Works in the exhibition range from the beginning of the twentieth century to the present.

The rose, 1927
The rose, 1927
The rose, 1927
The rose, 1927

The World of Thea Proctor

Previous exhibition, 2005

The World of Thea Proctor is the Portrait Gallery's second major biographical exhibition - that is, the second exhibition to focus exclusively on the life and work of a single individual

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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.