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Marcie Elizabeth Wilson
, 1922

by George Lambert

pencil on paper (frame: 35.5 cm x 27.0 cm, sight: 55.5 cm x 43.7 cm)

Marcie Elizabeth ‘Betty’ Fairfax (née Wilson, 1907–1995), was a leading figure in fashionable circles in Sydney in the 1920s and 1930s. The daughter of a barrister, Betty made headlines when she married media proprietor Warwick Fairfax in 1928. Their divorce in 1946, and Betty’s subsequent remarriage to a French naval officer, was the subject of heated gossip. During World War 2, Betty ran Air Force House in Sydney, where a team of volunteers provided meals and accommodation for 2000 servicemen each week. She has been described as ‘one of the great beauties of her generation’ who combined flair with wit and kindness. As a prominent socialite and hostess, Betty was connected with the city’s primary tastemakers of the inter-war years. Her portrait, photographed by Harold Cazneaux and styled by Adrian Feint, was featured in the April 1929 issue of The Home. Betty’s two children from her marriage to Warwick Fairfax, Caroline and James, both became art collectors and remarkable patrons of heritage and the arts in Sydney.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of the Simpson family in memory of Caroline Simpson OAM 2008
Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program
Accession number: 2008.82