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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.

Frances Saville, 1903

Reutlinger Studios

gelatin silver photograph on paper (support: 16.4 cm x 11.6 cm, sheet: 14.3 cm x 10.5 cm)

Frances Saville (1865–1935), soprano, was born Fanny Simonsen in San Francisco and came to Australia as a child, her parents being the owners of the touring Simonsen Opera Company. She studied singing with her mother, an accomplished soprano, and made her professional debut, aged seventeen, in 1882. She married a businessman named Max Rown in 1888, around which time she was also working as a singing teacher in Sydney. Having performed in productions there and in Melbourne, she left in 1891 to study with Madame Mathilde Marchesi in Paris. She made her international debut in Gounod’s Romeo and Juliet in Brussels in September 1892, receiving a message of congratulations from Nellie Melba. In 1895, having performed extensively in Europe and the UK, she went to New York for the first of two seasons with the Metropolitan Opera. Her marriage to Rown, who became her manager, ended in divorce in 1896. She joined the Vienna Court Opera in 1898 and performed with the company for five years until her deteriorating relationship with its director, Gustav Mahler, resulted in her retirement. She left Austria on the outbreak of World War 1 and briefly returned to Australia. She died in California in 1935.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2007

Accession number: 2007.15

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Reutlinger Studios

Frances Saville (age 38 in 1903)

Subject professions

Performing arts

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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.