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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.

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

Accession number: 2018.11

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Maria Windeyer (age 65 in 1860)

Donated by

Mrs Joanna Maher (3 portraits)

Related portraits

1. Maria Windeyer, c. 1865-68. All Freeman Brothers.

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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.