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Andree Johnston-Bell
, c. 1945

by Walter Langhammer

oil on canvas (frame: 102.5 cm x 93.5 cm, support: 88 cm x 79.5 cm)

Andree Johnston-Bell (1917-2007), pioneer publisher of articles on Australian antiques, was born in China of Belgian parents and educated in Belgium. After living for a time in Shanghai, she moved to Bombay early in World War 2. There, she became the editor of the Onlooker, a monthly glossy magazine, and moved in political and artistic circles, meeting Nehru, Gandhi and Tata. She married David Johnston-Bell, who was serving with Lord Mountbatten; they became friends with the Langhammers, and collected works by the artists in the Progressive School. After moving to Australia in 1950 the Johnston-Bells bought magazines including The Australian Collector, which under Andree's editorship soon became something of a collector's item in itself. One of her triumphs was the publication of previously-unseen engravings of botanical specimens collected by Banks and Solander. In retirement, she translated seventeenth-century French manuscripts.

Walter Langhammer fled the Nazis in Austria for India, becoming first art director of the Times of India in about 1936. He was soon surrounded by an 'in crowd' of fellow European refugees - professionals, artists, doctors and industrialists - who became important patrons of contemporary artists in Bombay.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Gift of Jocelyne MacLeod 2008
Accession number: 2008.19