Skip to main content
Menu

Dame Mary Gilmore, c. 1938

Lyall Trindall

oil on canvas (frame: 98.5 cm x 88.5 cm, support: 86.5 cm x 76.2 cm)

Dame Mary Gilmore DBE (1865–1962) was a poet, journalist, radical social visionary and letter writer. She was the first female member of the Australian Workers’ Union, and from 1908 to 1931 she championed the causes of the underprivileged as editor of the women’s page of the Australian Worker. In 1930 she published The Wild Swan, a book of verse decrying white settlers’ ravaging of the land and indifference to Aboriginal culture. Under the Wilgas (1932) and subsequent works expanded on this theme. Between 1891 and 1961 at least 13 portraits were made of Gilmore by various artists. In 1937, when she was made a Dame of the British Empire, she became the first person to be created DBE for writing. Her State funeral in Sydney was the first for an Australian writer since that of her friend – possibly, briefly, her boyfriend – Henry Lawson, forty years earlier.

Gordon Lyall Trindall gave up his Marrickville barbering business at age 26 to become an artist. By the 1940s he was widely known for his portraits and nudes, which commanded extraordinarily high prices. Trindall stated that while modern art may be good, he himself could not make a living at it. Instead, his aim was to paint what the public wanted; ‘sincerity’, he said, ‘is my guiding principle’.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased with funds provided by Marilyn Darling AC 2001

Accession number: 2001.42

Currently on display: Gallery Four (Liangis Gallery)

Copyright image request form
Request a digital copy of an image for publication

Artist and subject

Lyall Trindall (age 52 in 1938)

Dame Mary Gilmore DBE (age 73 in 1938)

Subject professions

Media and communications

Writing

© National Portrait Gallery 2019
King Edward Terrace, Parkes
Canberra, ACT 2600, Australia


Phone +61 2 6102 7000
Fax +61 2 6102 7001
ABN: 54 74 277 1196
The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Ngunnawal people, the traditional custodians of the land upon which the NPG stands.