Letter 4 - Melbourne Society of Women Painters

Melbourne Society of Women Painters

The Melbourne Society of Women Painters (MSWPS) is a vibrant and influential artistic organisation that has made significant contributions to the art world in Melbourne, Australia. Founded in 1902, the society has a rich history and continues to promote and support women artists in their pursuit of excellence in painting and other visual arts. Among the founding members were Daisy Stone, Tina Gowdie, Annie Gates, Kate Allan, Ella Thorn and Henrietta Gulliver. 


During the 1920s, the Melbourne Society of Women Painters began welcoming a new generation of professional women artists who were emerging from the Melbourne National Gallery School. This inclusive approach led to the invitation of notable women artists who represented both the Meldrum tonal school and the modernist movement, further enriching the society's membership and artistic perspectives.

Historically, women artists faced challenges in gaining recognition and opportunities to showcase their talent. The establishment of the Melbourne Society of Women Painters aimed to address these barriers and to create a supportive community where women could develop their artistic skills, exhibit their work, and network with like-minded individuals.

The society has played a pivotal role in fostering a nurturing environment for women artists, allowing them to thrive and gain recognition for their creative endeavors. MSWPS has consistently advocated for equal opportunities and recognition for women in the art world, challenging traditional norms and stereotypes.

Membership in the Melbourne Society of Women Painters is open to all women artists, regardless of age or experience level. This inclusive approach ensures that artists at different stages of their career can benefit from the society's resources and support. The society provides a platform for artists to exhibit their work in prestigious galleries and participate in curated group exhibitions, solo shows, and annual awards.

One of the core activities of MSWPS is its regular exhibitions, which showcase the diverse range of artistic styles and techniques used by members. These exhibitions provide an opportunity for artists to share their work with the public, receive feedback, and engage in dialogue with other artists and art enthusiasts. The society also organises workshops, demonstrations, and educational programs led by experienced artists, enabling members to enhance their skills and expand their artistic horizons.

Over the years, many talented artists have emerged from the Melbourne Society of Women Painters and have gone on to achieve significant success in the art world. MSWPS has consistently demonstrated the depth of talent and creativity among women artists in Melbourne, reinforcing the importance of inclusivity and gender equality in the arts and playing a pivotal role in empowering women artists and challenging gender disparities within the art world.

As it continues to evolve and adapt to the changing art landscape, the Melbourne Society of Women Painters remains a crucial institution that champions women's artistic expression and contributes to the vibrant cultural fabric of Melbourne.

Wedding of Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon to Prince Albert, Duke of York

The royal wedding of Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon and Prince Albert, Duke of York, held on April 26, 1923 at Westminster Abbey. , captured the hearts of Australians and left an indelible mark on the nation's history. As Australia was part of the British Empire at the time, the wedding of Lady Elizabeth and Prince Albert carried immense significance for Australians who held a deep affection for the monarchy.  Australia's loyalty to the monarchy was steadfast, and the wedding symbolised the connection between the Australian people and the British Crown. 

The Australian public eagerly followed the news and updates leading up to the royal wedding. Newspapers provided extensive coverage, recounting every detail of the ceremony and the notable guests in attendance. Photographs of Lady Elizabeth in her ivory silk wedding gown featured on the pages of Australian newspapers. Communities organised street parties to mark the occasion, cities and towns were adorned with decorations in patriotic colours, and Australian flags were flown alongside the Union Jack. Australians gathered in public spaces, homes, and local venues to listen to radio broadcasts to share in the celebration from afar.

The wedding served as a symbol of hope and unity, lifting spirits in the aftermath of World War I. 

Lady Elizabeth made a surprising gesture as she entered the Abbey; instead of carrying her bouquet with her, she chose to lay it at the Tomb of The Unknown Warrior as a tribute to her brother Fergus, demonstrating respect for those who have made sacrifices in service to their country.

The couple's later reign as King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, cemented their place in the hearts of Australians. Their unwavering support and dedication during World War II further solidified their popularity, as they stood as symbols of strength and resilience in challenging times.

Ferdinand von Mueller

Ferdinand von Mueller (also known as Baron Sir Ferdinand Jacob Heinrich von Mueller) was a prominent and influential figure in the field of Australian botany and scientific exploration. He was born on June 30, 1825, in Rostock, Germany and dedicated his life to studying and documenting Australia's rich and diverse flora.

Mueller's journey to Australia began in 1847 when he arrived in Adelaide, South Australia. He enjoyed numerous expeditions and explored vast regions of the continent, collecting an extensive range of plant specimens. His botanical explorations covered diverse landscapes, from the arid interior to the lush rainforests of the eastern coast. Mueller's keen eye and passion for discovery led to the identification of numerous plant species previously unknown to science.

In 1853, Mueller was appointed as the first government botanist of Victoria, a position he held until his retirement in 1896. During his tenure, he transformed the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne into a renowned centre for botanical research and education. Mueller's contributions to Australian botany included describing approximately 2000 new species.

Beyond his work as a botanist, Mueller was also actively involved in various scientific societies and organisations. He played a crucial role in establishing the National Herbarium of Victoria, which houses an extensive collection of plant specimens and serves as a valuable resource for researchers. Mueller's efforts in promoting scientific research and collaboration earned him recognition both in Australia and internationally.

Mueller's dedication to botany and his invaluable contributions to Australian science were acknowledged by his appointment as the first Australian knight in 1879. Throughout his life, he maintained close relationships with fellow scientists and corresponded with prominent figures in the botanical world, further enriching his knowledge and expanding his network.

Ferdinand von Mueller's legacy continues to inspire and guide botanical research in Australia. His meticulous documentation of plant species, exploration of uncharted territories, and commitment to sharing knowledge laid the foundation for our understanding of Australia's unique flora. Mueller's work remains a testament to his passion for discovery, his enduring impact on the field of botany, and his important role in shaping our knowledge of Australia's natural heritage.

Como House

Como House, also known as Como Historic House and Garden, is a historic mansion located in South Yarra, Melbourne. It is a prime example of Victorian architecture and is listed on the Victorian Heritage Register.

The mansion was built in 1847 for Edward Eyre Williams, a lawyer and politician. It was designed in the Italianate style by architect Charles Webb. The name "Como" was given to the house by the subsequent owner, Frederick Dalgety, who named it after Lake Como in Italy where he proposed to his wife.

Throughout its history, Como House has been home to several prominent families and has witnessed significant events. In 1864, it was purchased by the Armytage family, who owned the property for over a century. During their ownership, Como House became a social hub and hosted numerous gatherings and events.

The mansion's interior features elegant and ornate decor, showcasing the opulence and grandeur of the Victorian era. It houses an extensive collection of original furniture, artworks, and historical artifacts, offering visitors a glimpse into the lifestyle of the wealthy elite during the 19th century.

Surrounded by beautiful gardens, Como House provides a serene and picturesque setting. The garden features manicured lawns, flower beds, a rose arbor, and a large ornamental lake. It offers visitors a tranquil escape and serves as a popular venue for weddings, events, and cultural activities.

Como House is open to the public and offers guided tours, allowing visitors to explore its rich history and architectural beauty. It stands as a testament to Melbourne's heritage and serves as a significant cultural landmark in the region.


 Sources for images and further reading