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Portrait of Deborah Vernon Hackett
, c. 1908

by Florence Ada Fuller

oil on canvas (frame: 108.0 cm x 90.0 cm, support: 82.0 cm x 64.0 cm)

Deborah Vernon Hackett (née Drake-Brockman, 1887–1965), was a mining company director and welfare worker. She grew up in Western Australia, where in 1905, aged seventeen, she married 58-year-old John Winthrop Hackett, newspaper proprietor and legislative councillor. Together they had five notable children. By 1916, the year she was first widowed, Lady Hackett had produced a copious manual of home hints. In 1918 she married Frank Moulden, who was made Mayor of Adelaide a few years later. As Lady Mayoress, she raised enormous sums for Adelaide’s charities. Over the course of the 1920s Lady Moulden became convinced of the potential of a rare mineral, tantalite, found in Western Australia and the Northern Territory. After visiting sites in the outback, she formulated export plans, and pressed the merits of Australian tantalite on visits to the USA and England. In 1936, by which time she had been awarded an honorary doctorate, she married again; henceforth known as Dr Buller Murphy, she lived in Victoria, and worked vigorously on behalf of various good causes, notably British war orphans.

Florence Fuller (1867–1946) became well-regarded for her portraits in Melbourne in the 1880s. After spending ten years abroad, between 1904 and 1909 she worked in Perth. Fuller was a Theosophist, and spent some time in Calcutta; her striking Portrait of the Lord Buddha, dating from around 1910, was said to have been painted from memory of their direct encounters.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Purchased with funds provided by Marilyn Darling AC 2005
Accession number: 2005.84