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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.

Self portrait

1900
Agnes Goodsir

oil on canvas (frame: 102 cm x 78 cm depth 7 cm)

During the late nineteenth century Agnes Goodsir (1864–1939) studied at the Bendigo School of Mines in Victoria under the tutelage of the artist Arthur Woodward, who insisted that students be exposed to international cultural circles. Goodsir set her sights on England and France, venturing overseas to 'find herself' at the mature age of 36. Her works were featured in the seasonal salons of Paris, gaining her significant attention and resulting in a steady flow of commissions. After briefly moving to London (where she also exhibited at the Royal Academy and the Royal Institute) she resettled in Paris in 1921 with her companion and muse, Rachel Dunn, who appeared in many of her paintings. In 1926, she was made a member of France’s Société Nationale des Beaux Arts, one of few Australians to receive the honour.

This 1900 self portrait, made in her first year in Paris, shows why she generated noted interest within the Parisian art world. Goodsir, using herself as subject, has successfully captured the balance between the aesthetic and the authentic, offering a portrayal that presents the artist as a sensitive and confident woman, with a decent dose of appealing Romantic drama. On her brief return to Australia in 1927 to deliver two major solo exhibitions, her reputation as a portrait artist in Europe was widely vaunted by the press.

Gift of Rosemary Neilson 2021

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

Agnes Goodsir (age 36 in 1900)

Subject professions

Visual arts and crafts

Related information

The Companion

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On one level The Companion talks about the most famous and frontline Australians, but on another it tells us about ourselves: who we read, who we watch, who we listen to, who we cheer for, who we aspire to be, and who we'll never forget. The Companion is available to buy online and in the Portrait Gallery Store.

Girl with Cigarette, c. 1925 by Agnes Goodsir
Girl with Cigarette, c. 1925 by Agnes Goodsir
Girl with Cigarette, c. 1925 by Agnes Goodsir
Girl with Cigarette, c. 1925 by Agnes Goodsir

Agnes enigma

Magazine article by Karen Quinlan AM, 2019

Karen Quinlan considers the case of Agnes Goodsir, whose low profile in Australia belies her overseas acclaim.

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The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance
The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance
The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance

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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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