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Study for a portrait of Dame Merlyn Myer DBE

by William Dargie

oil on masonite (frame: 63.0 cm x 54.5 cm, support: 49.0 cm x 40.2 cm)

Dame Margery Merlyn Baillieu Myer (1900-1982), philanthropist, was the daughter of hotelier, George Baillieu. Born in Queenscliff, she grew up in Melbourne and met store-owner Sidney Myer in 1916. He had arrived in Victoria as Simca Baevski in 1898 and worked his way up to open the sophisticated American-style department store Myer Emporium on Bourke Street in 1911. Merlyn Baillieu and Myer (a divorcé) married in San Francisco in 1920. Settling in Melbourne in 1929 with two sons and two daughters. After Sidney’s death in 1934, Merlyn plunged herself into the Myer Emporium and administering the Sidney Myer Charitable Trust. Appointed OBE for her work for the Red Cross, she was promoted to DBE in 1960 for philanthropy. She raised large sums for cancer and heart disease research, was a Board member of the Royal Melbourne Hospital and patron of many community welfare organisations. From 1942 she often retreated to her sheep and cattle property Booroola, but remained a byword in Melbourne for elegance and generosity.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Gift of the Estate of Marion Orme Page 2016
Accession number: 2016.71