born United Kingdom 1912; arrived Australia 1923; died 1981
Half caste woman 1960
oil on canvas
Gift of Rosemary Gough through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program, 2019
Russell Drysdale is one of Australia’s most significant artists who explored the living contexts of those whom he painted, approaching their portraits with compassion and respect. The numerous representations of First Nations Peoples he has painted highlight the complex relationships between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous Australians.
The uncomfortable title of this work is a product of the prevailing attitudes and vernacular of the 1960s. This commanding yet peaceful portrait creates a sense of wonder and curiosity about this woman’s life. The work encourages reflection, highlighting the importance of reconciling the lasting traumatic effects of colonisation in Australia.