We acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the Country on which the Art Gallery of NSW stands.

🛈 Find out what you need to know before visiting

Winner: Archibald Prize 1926

W B McInnes Silk and lace (Miss Esther Paterson)

oil on canvas

113.4 x 92 cm stretcher; 151.7 x 129.6 cm frame

This portrait of artist Esther Paterson (1892–1971) by WB McInnes was one of four works he submitted to the 1926 Archibald competition and the fifth of his paintings to win the Archibald Prize. The work is now in the Art Gallery of NSW collection.

Paterson was born into an artistic family. Her father Hugh Paterson (brother of landscape painter John Ford Paterson) and mother Lizzie encouraged her to follow a creative path, as did their neighbour, artist Frederick McCubbin.

Esther Paterson studied alongside McInnes at the National Gallery School under Bernard Hall and also took classes at the Meldrum School of Painting, absorbing Max Meldrum’s tonalist teachings.

She became a commercial artist and a prominent member of the Melbourne Society of Women Painters and Sculptors, and would go on to exhibit ten paintings in the Archibald Prize from 1938.