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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.

Maisie

1938-1939
Peter Purves Smith

gouache on paper (frame: 78.0 cm x 72.5 cm, sheet: 42.4 cm x 38.0 cm)

Lady Maisie Drysdale (1915–2001), children's librarian and artists' muse, met Peter Purves Smith and Russell Drysdale at George Bell's art school in Melbourne. In 1935 Drysdale married Elizabeth 'Bon' Stephens and two years later, Purves Smith left for Europe, followed in 1938 by Maisie and her mother. After Maisie returned home Purves Smith cabled his proposal to her but they were separated for the duration of the war. They married in 1946 in Melbourne, with Drysdale as best man; however, Purves Smith died following surgery to relieve symptoms of tuberculosis in 1949. Three years later, Maisie completed library studies and became a librarian at the City of Coburg Library and later, the Camberwell City Library. She also served on the Editorial Committee of the Children's Book Council of Victoria. In November 1963, Bon Drysdale died, and seven months later Maisie married Russell Drysdale. They bought a block of land near Gosford, Bouddi Farm, where they lived for the rest of their lives, travelling widely; Maisie outlived Russell by twenty years.

This modernist portrait of Maisie by her husband-to-be Peter Purves Smith is thought to have been painted while they were both in London, before he joined the British Army in 1940. The restricted colour palette focuses attention on Maisie's elegant profile, framed by her fur collar.

Bequest of Lady Maisie Drysdale 2001

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

Peter Purves Smith (age 26 in 1938)

Lady Maisie Drysdale (age 23 in 1938)

Subject professions

Education and research

Donated by

The Estate of Lady Maisie Drysdale (2 portraits)

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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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