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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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Maria Windeyer

c. 1860s
an unknown artist

albumen photograph, hand-coloured (frame: 33.7 cm x 28.4 cm, sheet (irregular): 17.3 cm x 13.0 cm)

Maria Windeyer (née Camfield, 1795–1878), landowner, emigrated to New South Wales in 1835 with her husband Richard, a barrister, and their infant son, William Charles. In addition to establishing a practice in Sydney, Richard acquired land on the Hunter River, buying property at Raymond Terrace in 1838. The homestead they built there – Tomago House – was designed by Maria and became the centre of an extensive agricultural property, its crops including tobacco, cotton, and sugar cane. In 1839 Maria reported that her husband was earning good money as a barrister, but that ‘it makes no show at present, being all laid out in land and swamp.’ By 1842, Tomago had grown to almost 30,000 acres, thirty of which were dedicated to the vines from which they produced their first wine in 1845. Meanwhile, Richard had purchased a house in Sydney which, combined with his ambitions for Tomago, led to perilously large debts. These worries contributed to his death, aged 41, in December 1847. Maria was left owing some £9000 on the property. Having managed the business side of Tomago since 1844, however, Maria refused to resign herself meekly to impecunious widowhood. With some assistance and through refinancing and the part sale of Tomago, she was able to retain the house and surrounding land, including the vineyards. She later dismissed the superintendent and ran everything herself, doing her own domestic work to save money and earning an income through sales of beef, preserves and wine. She hired a German winemaker in 1849 and in 1855 one of her wines was awarded a certificate of merit at the Exposition Universelle in Paris. She died at Tomago in December 1878, aged 83. Partly because of his mother’s experiences, William Charles Windeyer (1834–1897) developed a particular interest in women’s rights and as NSW attorney-general was responsible for the introduction of the Married Women's Property Act in 1879.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of Joanna Russell Maher (née Windeyer) 2018

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

Maria Windeyer (age 65 in 1860)

Donated by

Mrs Joanna Maher (3 portraits)

Related portraits

1. Maria Windeyer, c. 1865-1868. All Freeman Brothers after Edwin Dalton.

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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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