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Australian art

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Figure in a garden (The aunt)



Roy de Maistre

Australia, England

27 Mar 1894 - 01 Mar 1968


De Maistre's friendship with fellow Australian Patrick White whom he met in London in 1936 was an important one for both artist and writer. 'Figure in a garden (The aunt)' was prompted by a photograph of a relative as a young woman in Edwardian dress, found by de Maistre amongst the bombed ruins of Chelsea Barracks. The painting inspired White to create the subject for his 1948 novel The Aunt's Story and was used on the cover of the first edition of this book.


Other Titles

The Aunt, 1945 [Whitechapel Art Gallery, Retrospective 1960, Cat.No.62].

Figure in a garden (The Aunt)



Media category


Materials used

oil on hardboard


90.5 x 63.5 cm board; 108.0 x 80.5 x 7.2 cm frame

Signature & date

Signed l.l. corner, black oil "R de Maistre [underlined]". Not dated.


Gift of Patrick White 1974


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Roy de Maistre

Artist profile

Works in the collection


Shown in 5 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 14 publications


Nancy Borlase., The Sydney Morning Herald, 'Art', Sydney, 17 Sep 1976. Review of Project 14

Edmund Capon AM, OBE and Jan Meek (Editors), Portrait of a Gallery, 'Australian 20th Century Art', pg. 71-89, Sydney, 1984, 86 (colour illus.).

Peter Craven, The life of Patrick White, Canberra, 2012, 24. 36

Deborah Edwards, Australian art: in the Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'Moderns', pg. 103-104, Sydney, 2000, 111 (colour illus.), 301.

Dr David Hansen, Important Australian and International Art: Melbourne 22 November 2011, Catalogue entry for Lot 12 Roy de Maistre 'La Folie', pg. 30-31, Melbourne, 2011, 30.

Helen Verity Hewitt, Patrick White, painter, manqué: paintings, painters and their influence on his writing, 'Jardin exotique', pg. 20-27, Carlton, 2002, 20-21, 131.

Heather Johnson, Roy de Maistre: The english years, New South Wales, 1995, 35 (illus.).

Heather Johnson, Parallel visions: works from the Australian collection, 'Roy de Maistre / Roland Wakelin', pg. 48-59, Sydney, 2002, 52 (colour illus.), 143, 147.

David Marr, Patrick White: A life by David Marr, Milsons Point, 1991, 237, 262.

Sir John Rothenstein and Bryan Robertson, Roy de Maistre: A retrospective exhibition of paintings and drawings from 1917-1960, London, 1960, 14. 62; titled: 'The aunt'; dated: 1945; Coll: Patrick White, Esq.

Stephen Sasse, Companion notes to 'The aunt's story' by Patrick White, Blackheath, 2012, front cover (colour illus.).

Daniel Thomas AM (Curator), Project 14: Roy de Maistre 1894-1968, Sydney, 1976, (illus.). 23

Daniel Thomas., The Sydney Morning Herald, 'Painting's influence on literature', Sydney, 14 Sep 1976.

Editor Unknown (Editor), The Australian financial review, 'De Maistre - not a discordant note among those who mattered', pg. 28, Sydney, 26 Sep 1974, 28. titled 'The Aunt'