Fred Leist (1878-1945)
London Coster Girl 1912
oil on canvas
60.7 x 50.5 cm
Gift of Howard Hinton 1937
Born 1873, Sydney. Died 1945, Sydney.
After training as a furniture designer, Frederick William Leist studied art at Sydney Technical College and the Art Society of NSW with Julian Ashton. He worked as a black-and-white artist for the Bulletin and the Sydney Mail. In 1908 he moved to London and drew for Graphic. He held many exhibitions and participated regularly in Royal Academy shows and the Chelsea Arts Club. He designed posters for the War Office and was an official war artist in France with the Australian Imperial Force. Leist returned to live in Sydney in 1926. He continued to paint landscapes but in particular became successful as a portrait painter receiving many commissions.
Painted during his London years, this work was lent by Howard Hinton for the Society of Artist's annual exhibition in 1936, and then donated the year after to the Armidale Teachers' College. In the paperwork accompanying the artworks, Hinton noted to Principal Newling the contrast in the artist's style between London Coster Girl and another later work Silver & Blue. In a May 1934 edition of the Sydney Mail both works were pictured to publicise his Blaxland Galleries exhibition and illustrate early and late examples of the artist's work. In 'London Coster Girl', the half-length portrait of the female subject is dignified, despite her lowly status as a fruit and vegetable barrow seller. Her arms are crossed at the waist and her chin is raised slightly beneath her large feathered hat. Hinton was a particular fan of this artist, donating a dozen works to the Armidale collection.