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Judy Cassab
, 1984

by Lewis Morley

gelatin silver photograph (sheet: 29.9 cm x 40.0 cm, image: 29.1 cm x 39.7 cm)

Judy Cassab AO CBE (b. 1920) is one of Australia's best-loved, most successful and prolific portrait painters. Born in Vienna, she studied in Prague and at the Budapest Academy before adopting false papers and 'going underground' to escape the persecution of Hungarian Jews. After the war, she and her husband reunited and came to Australia. Finding that she could not make a living through painting, she took up teaching, because her husband would not let her work in a factory. She hardly spoke English and was disoriented by the strange light and seasons, but found inspiration for a more abstract style of painting in the landscape of the Northern Territory, to which she repeatedly returned. Gradually, she made friends with artists such as Jeffrey Smart, Stanislaus Rapotec and Desiderius Orban. In 1961 she became the first woman in twenty years to win the Archibald, with a portrait of Rapotec. She won again with a portrait of friend and fellow artist, Margo Lewers, in 1968. Cassab has held a great number of solo exhibitions and has won many awards, including a literary award for her published diaries.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Gift of the artist 2003
Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program
Accession number: 2003.54