This exhibition celebrates the diverse and impressive works of Curzona Frances Louise (Lily) Allport (1860 – 1949).
Entitled Lily Allport: In Retrospect, the exhibition is a selection of her life’s work, and was opened by the Hon. Elise Archer MP on the anniversary of the artist’s birth.
Over eighty of Lily’s original watercolours, oils, lithographs, linocuts, drawings, silk fans, sketchbooks and personal objects are displayed in the largest ever exhibition of her works. Lily Allport was influenced by the Art Deco aesthetic and Japanese woodcuts in her printmaking. She also produced Tasmanian landscapes, European architectural studies, portraits of women and children, botanical illustrations and studies of animals.
Lily came from a family renowned in Tasmania for their artistic and cultural contributions and she regularly exhibited her work to critical acclaim for more than six decades. At the age of 27, Lily travelled to England to study under Dutch artist Hubert Vos and later Charles Furse. In 1893, she became the first Tasmanian-born artist to have her work hung in the Royal Academy of Arts in London.
At the exhibition opening, local artist Penny Carey Wells launched the book Miss Lily: A Portrait of the Artist Curzona Allport, by author and former Allport librarian, Marian Jameson.
Headstrong and talented, Lily Allport honed her craft for more than seven decades. Born in Hobart in 1860, she received lessons from the first professional female artist in Australia, her grandmother Mary Morton Allport (1806-1895). At twenty-seven Lily travelled to England to study under Dutch artist Hubert Vos and later Charles Furse.
In 1891 she became the first Tasmanian-born artist to have her work hung in the Royal Academy of Arts in London. She regularly sold her paintings and exhibited at the Royal Society of Portrait Painters, the Paris Salon, the Ridley Art Club, and many private galleries including her own studio in Hobart. Allport taught at the London School of Photo-Engraving and Lithography and in her late sixties attended the Grosvenor School of Modern Art. At the age of seventy-five, having returned to Hobart, she established the Bolt Press to focus on printmaking. She continued exhibiting her work until her death in 1949.
She was influenced by Japanese woodblock printing, the Art Deco movement and portraitists James Whistler and John Singer Sargent. Her art exhibits mastery across multiple media, including watercolour on paper and on silk, oil painting, drawing in pencil, ink and pastel, lithography, linocut and woodcut prints. She was the first Australian artist to produce colour lithographs in England in 1908, during the revival of the use of lithography at the time. It was in the art of printmaking that Lily Allport found her niche, her passion and unique style.
Despite the acclaim she received during her life, Lily Allport has never been recognised as a major artist. Personally and artistically she lived between two worlds and two centuries, defying classification as either ‘Australian’ or ‘European’, ‘Victorian’ or ‘Modern’. The only public gallery with a substantial collection of her work is the Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts, established by her nephew Henry Allport (1890-1965). Henry had slight regard for her work and stored her paintings in his garden shed, where many were destroyed by water damage.