I painted that self-portrait in my father’s studio – on the walls were several Vermeer prints. I greatly admired Vermeer’s works and wanted to paint like him – perhaps Vermeer and my father were my biggest influences in those days …
Nora Heysen, 1970s
Nora Heysen’s self-portrait strongly articulates her identity and ambition as a young artist, independent of her famous artist-father Hans Heysen. Characteristic of her 1930s’ paintings, 'Self portrait' is powerfully composed with precise, strongly defined forms and earthy colours recalling European masters of the early Renaissance. After undertaking study in Europe, Heysen established herself as a distinguished portrait and still-life painter. In 1938 she won the Archibald Prize, the first woman to have done so.
oil on canvas
76.2 x 61.2 cm stretcher; 96.2 x 81.0 x 5.0 cm frame
Signature & date
Signed and dated l.r. corner, red oil "NORA HEYSEN. 1932.".
Gift of Howard Hinton 1932
© Lou Klepac
Shown in 9 exhibitions
Howard Hinton memorial exhibition (1948), National Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 13 Apr 1948–30 Apr 1948
Artists by artists (1954), Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 04 Nov 1954–05 Dec 1954
Seeing is believing - the art in photography, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 13 Dec 1985–19 Jan 1986
South Australian Women Artists: 1890s - 1940s, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, 15 Apr 1994–17 Jul 1994
All in the family, National Portrait Gallery [Old Parliament House], Canberra, 01 Oct 1994–08 Feb 1995
Review: works by women from the permanent collection of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 08 Mar 1995–04 Jun 1995
Nora Heysen, National Library of Australia, Canberra, 25 Oct 2000–28 Jan 2001
Nora Heysen: Light and life:
Australian modern masterpieces from the Art Gallery of New South Wales:
Referenced in 20 publications
Janine Burke, Australian women artists 1840-1940, Collingwood, 1980, 110 (illus.), 168-169. plate no. 32
Ian Burn, National life and landscape - Australian painting 1900-1940, 'Reflections in private space', pg. 117-158 Chapter four, Sydney, 1990, 120, 121 (colour illus.). plate no. 87
Deborah Edwards, Australian art: in the Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'Classical allusions', pg. 135-136, Sydney, 2000, 135, 142 (colour illus.), 143, 300.
R.H. Goddard, Lionel Lindsay and C.B. Newling, A memorial volume to Howard Hinton patron of art, Sydney, 1951, 130 (illus.).
Jane Hylton, Nora Heysen: light and life, 'Natural talent and industry: Early years in Adelaide', pg. 12-21, Kent Town, 2009, 17, 18, 51 (colour illus.).
Bruce James, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Australian Collection: Painting and Sculpture', pg. 102-181, Sydney, 1999, 142 (colour illus.).
Lou Klepac, Nora Heysen, Sydney, 1989, 9, 26 (colour illus.), 78.
Lou Klepac, National Library of Australia news, 'The Heysen legacy: the work of Nora Heysen', pg. 7-10, Canberra, Nov 2000, 22 (colour illus.).
Lou Klepac, Nora Heysen, 'Nora Heysen', pg. 1-6, Canberra, 2000, back cover (colour illus.), 18 (colour illus.), 50.
Lionel Lindsay, Howard Hinton memorial exhibition, 'Howard Hinton, OBE', pg. 2-3, Sydney, 1948, 18. cat.no. 116
Rosemary Lloyd, Yearbook of comparative and general literature [Vol. 49, 2001], 'Objects in the mirror: gendering the still life', pg. 39-55, Bloomington, 2002, 46, 52 (illus.).
Alan McCulloch and Susan McCulloch, The Encyclopedia of Australian Art, St Leonards, 1994, 339 (illus.).
Ewen McDonald, The Art Gallery of New South Wales collections, 'From Colonialism to late Modernism', pg. 7-106, Sydney, 1994, 43 (colour illus.).
Barry Pearce, Look, 'The Lowy, Gonski Gallery', pg. 37, Sydney, Dec 2005-Jan 2006, 37.
Ursula Prunster, Seeing is believing: the art in photography, 'The portrait and the photograph', Sydney, 1985. cat.no. 21; not paginated
Sotheby's Australia, Sotheby's Sydney: Important Australian Art (31 August 2010), Melbourne, 2010, 52, 53 (colour illus.). RELATED WORK: cat.no. 23; titled 'Self portrait' 1932, 76 x 64cm, private collection. This work is illustrated on page 53.
Catherine Speck (Editor), Heysen to Heysen: selected letters of Hans Heysen and Nora Heysen, 'Introduction', pg. 1-19, Canberra, 2011, 2, 329.
Jill Sykes (Editor), Look, Sydney, Nov 2009, 48 (colour illus.). members events section hightlighting forthcoming 'Nora Heysen: Light and Art', S.H. Ervin Gallery.
Jill Sykes (Editor), Look, Sydney, Oct 2007, 45 (colour illus.).
Alex Taylor, Perils of the studio: inside the artistic affairs of bohemian Melbourne, 'Surviving the interior', pg. 63-102, North Melbourne, 2007, 96, 100 (colour illus.). figure 87