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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.

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Dame Enid Lyons

c. 1943
an unknown artist

watercolour and gouache on ivory (oval: 7.8 cm x 6.0 cm)

Dame Enid Lyons AD GBE (1897–1981) was the first woman elected to the Federal House of Representatives. Born in Smithton, Tasmania, she was fifteen when she met politician Joseph (Joe) Lyons and eighteen when they married in 1915. As the Prime Minister's wife from 1932 to 1939, she maintained what she described as a 'killing pace' of official and personal duties between Canberra, Melbourne and the family home in Devonport. Her last child – her twelfth – was born in 1933. She suffered depression following Joe's death in 1939, but returned to public life in 1943 when she stood as the United Australia Party candidate for the seat of Darwin (now Braddon) and won. A strong proponent of issues relating to women, Lyons also advocated for her state on industry and agricultural development. In 1949 she was appointed vice-president of the Executive Council, making her the first woman to serve in a Federal cabinet. Retiring from parliament in 1951, Lyons continued to be involved in political and community activities, and was commissioner of the ABC between 1951 and 1962.

This miniature, signed with the monogram 'JK', is unusual among portraits of Dame Enid in that it shows her dressed in a lace gown rather than in one of the plain black dresses that she usually wore during her years in parliament.

Purchased 2016

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

Dame Enid Lyons AD GBE (age 46 in 1943)

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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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