Dora Ohlfsen was born in 1869 in Ballarat, Victoria. At the age of 23 she left Australia to study music in Berlin but abandoned her studies after developing neuritis of the arm. Ohlfsen moved to Russia and then Italy, where in 1902 she began studying with artists of the French Academy, including the medallist Pierre Dautel. After setting up a studio in Rome, she became known as a sculptor and medallist.
Ohlfsen was greatly moved by the tragedy of Gallipoli and began work on a series of commemorative medals honouring Australian soldiers:
‘I am just completing a medal dedicated to the Australians fallen in Gallipoli. However, it could be dedicated to those fallen in this war in general. If it should be put to any use by the Government I should like half of the proceeds to go the mutilated. I have made "Australia" and her son very young — representing as they do the youngest country and the youngest army.'
The female figure representing Australia on the reverse of the medal was modelled on a Mrs Grey (Miss Alexandra Simpson) who was, like Ohlfsen, working as a nurse in Rome.
Ohlfsen's Anzac medal is Australia’s first artist-made commemorative medal honouring the Anzacs.
Shown in 1 exhibition
Dora Ohlfsen and the facade commission, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 12 Oct 2019–08 Mar 2020
Other works by Dora Ohlfsen
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