Artwork of the month

Marion Ellis Rowan (1848-1922) Native Wisteria c1890

Watercolour and gouache on tinted paper

50 x 33 cm

$ 4,000


One of the most prominent characters of Australian Art, Rowan was taught by John Mather in Melbourne. She developed her interest in floral compositions in the 1870s when she began exhibiting large watercolours at the inter-colonial exhibitions. Between 1872 and 1893 she had won ten gold medals, 15 silver and 4 bronze medals, starting with a bronze at the second inter-colonial exhibition in Melbourne and ending with a gold medal at the world Colombian Exposition in Chicago. In 1880 at the Melbourne International Exhibition, Rowan and anther female artist, Catherine Purves, received the only gold medals awarded to Victorian artists. An offical protest was launched by the Melboure male artistic community and Louis Buvelot was included in the gold medal honours At the same exhibition in 1888, with Buvelot then deceased, Rowan was the only artist to received  a gold medal, which caused a great deal of controversy amongst male artists at the time, as they considered her works to be decorative at best.

A stoic figure, Rowan travelled far and wide, undertook a face lift in her 50s and staunchly refused to listen to naysayers and critics. Throughout her life she stayed true to her artistic ambitions and was truly a trailblazer for contemporary Australian female artists.

Her works are represented in most state and regional collections.

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Ellis Rowan Native Wisteria