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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.

Amy Castles, c. 1899

Johnstone O'Shannessy & Co

albumen silver photograph on cardboard (Paris Panel) (sheet: 20.0 cm x 23.2 cm, image: 16.0 cm x 21.0 cm)

Amy Castles (1880–1951), soprano, was born in Melbourne and educated at schools in Bendigo, where her family lived from the early 1880s. She was still at school when her talents attracted the attention of a singing teacher named E Allan Bindley, who orchestrated her professional debut at the Austral Salon in Melbourne in March 1899. Having toured Australia to raise the means to study abroad, she went to Paris to train with Madame Mathilde Marchesi, Melba’s teacher, and later studied with Jacques Bouhy. She made her London debut in November 1901, appearing with Clara Butt and compatriot Ada Crossley, and then returned to Australia under contract to JC Williamson & Co. Castles performed regularly in Britain and Europe throughout the first decade of the century, touring Australia again for J & N Tait in 1909–1910 before, in 1912, being offered a four-year contract with the Imperial Opera in Vienna. She was forced to return to Australia on the outbreak of war; and in 1917 went to the United States, remaining there for two years during which period she appeared at Carnegie Hall and gave concerts for convalescent and returned servicemen. Back in Australia from 1919, she went into semi-retirement. Castles never married. She died in Melbourne in 1951.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased with funds provided by Jim and Barbara Higgins 2012

Accession number: 2012.212

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Johnstone O'Shannessy & Co

Amy Castles (age 19 in 1899)

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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.