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Fanny Eleanor Lee, c 1855

Joseph Backler

oil on canvas laid on composition board (frame: 109.0 cm x 89.0 cm, support: 90.5 cm x 70.1 cm)

On loan to the National Portrait Gallery

Fanny Lee (1832–1905) was the only daughter of colonial landowner John Richard Tindale and his wife Mary (whose portraits by Maurice Felton are displayed nearby). Born in Bathurst, Mary was educated in Sydney and around the age of sixteen eloped with Thomas Lee, the son of another Bathurst grazier. Fanny and Thomas settled at a property named Woodlands, which became known for the racehorses Thomas bred there.

Joseph Backler arrived in Sydney in May 1832, under sentence of transportation for life for forgery. Despite his recidivism, Backler eventually gained his freedom and from the mid-1840s worked itinerantly throughout New South Wales. Fanny’s husband sat for Backler while he was in Bathurst in 1847. Fanny’s own portrait, however, is a more accomplished example of Backler’s work and is thought to have been painted later, in Sydney.

Courtesy of the Tait family

Accession number: LOAN2015.9.2

Currently on display: Gallery Three (Robert Oatley Gallery)

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Artist and subject

Joseph Backler (age 42 in 1855)

Fanny E. Lee (age 23 in 1855)

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