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Nora Heysen (1911-2003)
Still Life 1933
oil on canvas
51.1 x 60.7 cm
Gift of Howard Hinton 1933


Born 1911, Hahndorf, South Australia. Died 2003, Sydney, New South Wales.

Nora Heysen was the daughter of landscape artist Hans Heysen, and was tutored by her father in still life and portraiture. A distinguished artist in her own right, Heyson studied at the School of Fine Arts, North Adelaide, under F. Millward Grey from 1926 to 1933.

In 1933, already popular and acquired by major state galleries, Heysen held her first solo exhibition at the Royal South Australian Society of Arts, demonstrating in her still life paintings a clear articulation of form and colour.

Painted during that period, Still Life exemplifies her principle interest in the genre, with sensuous treatment of the bowl spilling its brightly coloured fruit in a balanced composition.

Settling in Sydney after three years studying overseas at the Central School of Art and the Byam Shaw School in London, Heysen became the first woman to win the acclaimed Archibald Prize in 1938, at the age of 27.

From 1944 to 1946 Heysen served as an Australian official war artist in New Guinea during World War II, where she met her husband Dr Robert Black, a specialist in tropical medicine. She frequently travelled to New Guinea and the Solomon Islands with her husband where she made paintings and drawings of the local people and landscape.