Portrait of a Woman
Florence Aline Rodway
- Florence Aline Rodway
- Portrait of a Woman
- pastel on paper
- 50 x 40 cm
Florence Rodway became known for her portrait work, usually focussing on a single figure. She continued to establish a significant reputation, particularly in her favoured medium of pastel and was sought after for portrait commissions from both institutions and private clients, including Dame Nellie Melba; J. F. Archibald (her portrait being a finalist in the inaugural Archibald prize); Julian Ashton and Henry Lawson.
In Rodway’s Portrait of a Woman, we are intrigued by the modern woman meeting the viewer’s gaze, in the manner of Preston’s Flapper (1925, collection of the National Gallery of Australia) and Hilda Rix Nicholas’ Une Australienne (1926, collection of the National Gallery of Australia).
Rodway has presented her sitter front on and with a great degree of directness with a focus on the face, the background seeming to support and highlight the figure and at the same time, simply melt away. Her outfit transports us to another era. Rodway uses bold, broken, parallel, vigorous linear strokes and strong colour focus. There is a sense of dynamism and we feel the presence of the sitter. Her ability to capture the essence of her sitter saw Rodway as a highly sought after portraitist and she was a finalist in the Archibald Prize in 1921, 1923 and 1942. An article in 1935 singled her out as a possible future prize winner, calling out for women artists to be recognised. It took until Nora Heysen’s win in 1938 for the first woman to win the Archibald.