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Agnes Goodsir (1864-1939)

Agnes Goodsir was an Australian artist who was recognised primarily for the portraits she created in Paris. Goodsir first began her artistic education in 1898, at the Bendigo School of Mines and Industries. While she was born into a well-to-do family, she sold much of her art during her year of study to help fund her trip to Paris, France. Her studies continued there, as Goodsir attended art schools such as Académie Julian, Académie Colarossi, and the “cutting-edge” Académie Delécluse. She was very highly regarded there, so much that she became the second Australian woman to be sent membership to the Salon Nationale des Beaux-Arts.

Goodsir was involved in the “lesbian circles” recognised in Paris during the 1920’s and 30’s. It was during this time her most well-known creations were conceived. Her partner, Rachel Dunn, was subject matter to many of these, such as Girl with Cigarette (1925). Her paintings would often include oriental influences, which was becoming increasingly popular in Paris at that time.

Goodsir enjoyed the French bohemian lifestyle up until her death, in 1939. While she was a recognised name in France, she was little-known in Australia. After her death she was almost completely forgotten and would have remained so if not for Dunn. Thanks to her, around 40 of Goodsir’s works were sent back to her family in Australia and multiple galleries.

Above: Detail of Agnes Goodsir’s Girl with Cigarette, painted in 1925.