Freda Robertshaw

Freda Rhoda Robertshaw (1916–1997) was an Australian artist and painter of neoclassical figures and landscapes.[1]

Freda Rhoda Robertshaw
Born1916 (1916)
Sydney, Australia
Died1997 (aged 80–81)
Sydney, Australia
Known forPainting
Movementstylised art deco


Born and raised in Sydney, she trained in commercial art at East Sydney Technical College until 1937, and became an apprentice and partner of artist Charles Meere. Both were conservative academic artists, painting the human figure in a studied neoclassical style.

Painters Arthur Murch and Napier Waller, and photographers Max Dupain and Olive Cotton were Australian contemporaries with a similar vision.

In 1940, the arts writer for The Bulletin declared that Robertshaw's nude painting "the best in the show".[2] Robertshaw was the first Australian woman artist to paint a fully nude self-portrait with Standing Nude (1944), which was also her last figure painting, representing her break from Meere's influence. Standing Nude was regarded as "the star attraction" of the 2001 Modern Australian Women exhibition, which debuted at the Art Gallery of South Australia.[3]

Robertshaw later experimented with landscape and surrealism; one of her surrealist works, Composition (1947), was acquired by the National Gallery of Australia.[4]

In 1998, Australian Beach Scene (1940), a feminised response to Meere's famous 1940 work Australian Beach Pattern, sold at Sotheby's for $A475,500, a record for an Australian woman artist at the time.[5][6]

Further readingEdit

  • Sun, Sea and Standing Tall, Leanne Santorro, LOOK, Art Gallery of NSW


  1. ^ Robertshaw, Freda Thoda. "Freda Rhoda Robertshaw". Design and Art Australia Online. Retrieved 31 August 2020.
  2. ^ "Vol. 61 No. 3161 (11 Sep 1940)". Trove. Retrieved 31 August 2020.
  3. ^ James, Bruce (18 June 2003). "Pictures of restraint make an impact all their own", The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 16 November 2012.
  4. ^ ROBERTSHAW, Freda | Composition, National Gallery of Australia. Retrieved 16 November 2012.
  5. ^ Maslen, Geoff (30 July 2002). "Women push through the canvas ceiling", The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 16 November 2012.
  6. ^ Philip McCouat, "The origins of an Australian Art Icon", Journal of Art in Society,

External linksEdit