The Letter (1926). Agnes Noyes Goodsir (Australian, 1864-1939).

Goodsir left Australia for England & France in 1900, and in the 1920s established herself as a painter of portraits, still lifes, & interiors that captured the evocative people, stories, & scenes of Parisian life. From about 1912, she shuttled between London & Paris, but finally settled in Paris at 18 Rue de l'Odéon. Her partner was Rachel Dunn, who is depicted in several of her paintings.

The Australian painter Agnes Noyes Goodsir was born in Portland, Victoria, the daughter of the Commissioner of Customs at Melbourne. She started her art education at the Bendigo School of Mines in the 1890s, and in 1899, she moved to Paris to continue her studies. From about 1912 she shuttled between London and Paris, but finally settled in Paris at 18 Rue de l'Odéon. Agnes Goodsir moved within lesbian circles in Paris in the 1920s and 1930s, her constant companion was Rachel Dunn, known as Cherry and depicted in several of her paintings, such as Girl with Cigarette 1925, The Letter 1926.

Agnes Noyes Goodsir

Her mind lives in a quiet room
a narrow room and tall,
with pretty lamps to quench the gloom
and mottoes on the wall.

There all the things are waxen neat
and set in decorous lines;
and there are posies; round and sweet,
and little straightened vines.

Her mind lives tidily apart from cold and noise and pain,
and bolts the door against her heart,
out wailing in the rain.

Dorothy Parker    1928

Agnes Noyes Goodsir (18 June 1864, Portland, Victoria – 1939, France) was an Australian portrait painter who moved within lesbian circles in Paris in the 1920s and 1930s.

Her early art training started with Arthur T. Woodward at the Bendigo School of Mines in the 1890s, and in 1899 some of her work was raffled in Bendigo to partly finance her study in Paris. The years following World War I saw a virtual exodus of Australian artists on a sort of Grand Tour to Paris, all intent on being part of the explosion of the arts taking place there. Painters like Rupert Bunny, Stella Bowen and Max Meldrum were drawn there by the appeal of the Left Bank. Others like Margaret Preston and Grace Crowley were inspired to develop in new directions by post-war Parisian art.

Goodsir attended the Académie Delécluse, the Académie Julian and then the Académie Colarossi. From about 1912 she shuttled between London and Paris, but finally settled in Paris at 18 rue de l'Odéon. Her constant companion was Rachel Dunn, depicted in several of her paintings, such as The Chinese Skirt 1933, Girl with Cigarette 1925, The Letter 1926 and Morning Tea 1925.

Her work was acclaimed and exhibited at the New Salon, the Salon des Indépendants, and the Société Nationale des Beaux Arts in Paris as well as at the Royal Academy and the Royal Institute in London. On a short visit to Australia in 1927 she exhibited at the Macquarie Galleries in Sydney and theFine Arts Gallery in Melbourne. In 1938 four of her oils were shown at the sesquicentennial exhibition at the NSW National Art Gallery.

On her death in 1939, her paintings were left to her companion Rachel Dunn, who sent some 40 to Agnes’s family in Australia and others to Australian galleries.

Goodsir’s work showed strong composition and technique, favouring oils over watercolours. Despite turning out a large number of still lifes and interiors, her forté was in her portraits, including Katharine Goodson, Leo Tolstoy, Ellen Terry, Banjo Patterson, Bertrand Russell, Dame Eadith Walker, Countess Pinci and, reportedly, Italian leader Benito Mussolini.

(source: Wikipedia)