- Media category
- Materials used
- oil on canvas on board
- 45.0 x 48.0 cm; 64.0 x 67.0 cm frame
- Signature & date
Signed l.l. 'A. M. Plante'.
- Purchased with funds provided by the David George Wilson Bequest for Australian Art 2021
- 20th-century galleries (ground floor)
- Accession number
- Artist information
A M Plante
Works in the collection
A.M. (Ada May) Plante was born in New Zealand in 1875 and came to Melbourne with her family in 1888. She studied painting at the National Gallery School, Melbourne under Bernard Hall and Frederick McCubbin where her fellow students included Hugh Ramsay, Margaret Preston and Max Meldrum. Plante went to Paris in 1902, studying at progressive art school the Academie Julian for two years and sharing a studio with Australian artist Cristina Asquith Baker. After returning to Australia, she exhibited her French work at the Victorian Artists Society and in 1907 exhibited in the First Australian Exhibition of Women’s Work, receiving prizes for portrait and figure painting.
In Melbourne she shared a studio in Collins Street with Isabel Hunter Tweddle and in the 1920s she shared a house with artists including Adrian Lawlor. In 1932 she was one of the founding exhibitors of the pioneering post-impressionist Melbourne Contemporary Group, whose members included Arnold Shore, William Frater, Tweddle and Lawlor. She also exhibited consistently with the Society of Women Painters and Sculptors. From 1934 until 1947, she lived with other artists including Lina Bryans at Darebin Bridge House, near Heidelberg. Nicknamed ‘The Pink Hotel’, it became known as a bohemian artists’ colony for Plante, Bryans, Frater, Ambrose Hallen and Ian Fairweather among other artists and writers.
Painted in the loose, brushy, bright colours associated with the group of experimental modernists that Plante associated with in Melbourne, 'The road menders' is an example in the greater interest in labour and working-class subjects of artists that developed with particular focus during the 1930s. Plante is unique as one of the few women artists to paint male labouring subjects during this time, and her sketch-like brushwork catches a sense of vital movement that she observed in the daily street life.
Plante was said to be shy and intensely private, and her work remained relatively unknown during her lifetime, though she had admirers among her artistic community. In her obituary, published in The Age after her death in 1950, Frater wrote ‘Miss Plante was one of the most important woman painters in this country. She had great purity of style and was a fine colourist. She was a very personal artist.’
Shown in 1 exhibition
20th-Century galleries Rehang (Ground Level), Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 20 Aug 2022–2023