Florence Rodway is best known for her portraits, including of notable figures in Australian history such as Dame Nellie Melba and Henry Lawson. This pastel work presents an intriguing domestic drama of unknown figures. The triangular composition, dramatic lighting and limited colour palette places the viewer’s attention on the three female figures in the sparsely furnished room. The title suggests the subject is the mother being interviewed for a domestic position by the woman on the right, whose status as the mistress of the house is indicated by her positioning close to the curtains and her lack of coat and hat. The child’s position at front and her white dress contrasts against her mother’s dark coat and background of the room, perhaps indicating she is the reason the mother is seeking employment. The dramatic lighting also serves to differentiate between the wealthy woman on the right and the figures on the left. The mother’s dark coat and the darkened room behind her contrast with the well-lit woman on the right with her shining gold bracelet.
pastel on paper
62.6 x 68.1 cm sight; 74.3 x 79.4 x 4.8 cm frame
Signature & date
Not signed. Not dated.
© Reproduced with permission of Susanne Collins
Shown in 2 exhibitions
Australia's 150th anniversary celebrations: All Australian art exhibition (1938), National Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Jan 1938–Apr 1938
Project 21 - Womens images of women (1977), Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 15 Oct 1977–13 Nov 1977
Referenced in 4 publications
Jude Adams, Barbara Hall and Jennifer Barber, Project 21: Women's images of women, Sydney, 1977. cat.no. 38; Collection of the Art Gallery of New South Wales
Ian Burn, National life and landscape - Australian painting 1900-1940, 'Reflections in private spaces', pg. 116-157, Sydney, 1990, 149 (colour illus.), 151. plate no. 113
Joan Kerr (Editor), Heritage: The national women's art book, Sydney, 1995, 74 (illus. colour), 75. cat no: 118
Lionel Lindsay, 150 years of Australian art, Sydney, 1938. cat.no. 541 [Gallery No. 5]