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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.

Portrait of Florence Broadhurst

1968
Joshua Smith

oil on canvas (frame: 89.5 cm x 70.2 cm, sight: 79.2 cm x 60.0 cm)

Florence Maude Broadhurst (1899-1977), designer, businesswoman and performer, grew up on a cattle station west of Bundaberg in Queensland and as a young woman toured Asia with musical theatre troupes. Having briefly run a finishing school in Shanghai, she went to London in the late 1920s, adopting the identity ‘Madame Pellier’ and, in partnership with her husband, establishing herself as a couturier in Bond Street. Returning to Australia in 1949 with her second husband and their son, Florence took up landscape painting and during the 1950s exhibited her works at the David Jones Art Gallery and at venues in Brisbane and Canberra. In 1959, she established Australian (Hand Printed) Wallpapers Pty Ltd. and, with a small staff, produced a range of high-quality wallpapers from a workshop situated at the back of her St Leonards car dealership. Within a decade, Broadhurst had built a considerable reputation for wallpaper designs that were typically as bold, vibrant and flamboyant as she was, and which were unique for their experimentation with printing techniques, finishes and textures. The company became known as Florence Broadhurst Wallpapers Pty Ltd on its relocation to premises in Paddington in 1969, thereafter exporting its products internationally. The Broadhurst Design Collection had grown to some 800 patterns when Florence was murdered in the Paddington factory in October 1977. The case has never been solved. In recent years, many of Broadhurst’s wallpapers have been reissued commercially, and fashion designers including Akira Isogawa have created fabrics based on her designs. Broadhurst has also been the subject of two biographies and Gillian Armstrong’s 2006 documentary, Unfolding Florence.

Joshua Smith (1905–1995) studied at East Sydney Technical College and Julian Ashton’s Art School. While working with a camouflage unit during the war, he met artist William Dobell, who won the 1943 Archibald Prize with a portrait of Smith. A law case ensued, with the artist complainants alleging that Dobell’s work was a caricature of his friend. Though the court found in Dobell’s favour, the trial was debilitating for both artist and sitter, but the following year Smith won the Archibald himself. Between 1927 and 1986, Smith was a regular exhibitor in the Archibald as well as in the Wynne and Sulman Prizes. This work and his 1962 portrait of Florence Broadhurst were both Archibald finalists.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2007
© Estate of Joshua Smith

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. Works of art from the collection are reproduced as per the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). The use of images of works from the collection may be restricted under the Act. Requests for a reproduction of a work of art can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

Artist and subject

Joshua Smith (age 63 in 1968)

Florence Broadhurst (age 69 in 1968)

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On one level The Companion talks about the most famous and frontline Australians, but on another it tells us about ourselves: who we read, who we watch, who we listen to, who we cheer for, who we aspire to be, and who we'll never forget. The Companion is available to buy online and in the Portrait Gallery Store.

Portrait of Florence Broadhurst
Portrait of Florence Broadhurst
Portrait of Florence Broadhurst
Portrait of Florence Broadhurst

Be bold

Magazine article by Katherine Russell, 2007

The name of Florence Broadhurst, one of Australia’s most significant wallpaper and textile designers, is now firmly cemented in the canon of Australian art and design.

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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 past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

This website comprises and contains copyrighted materials and works. Copyright in all materials and/or works comprising or contained within this website remains with the National Portrait Gallery and other copyright owners as specified.

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. The use of images of works of art reproduced on this website and all other content may be restricted under the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). Requests for a reproduction of a work of art or other content can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

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