Still life with fuschias

Born Pimpana, Queensland, Australia 1882, died Brisbane 1968


Frances Vida Lahey studied painting at the Brisbane Technical College and then at the National Gallery School, Melbourne (1905–09) with Bernard Hall. In 1915 she travelled to Europe where she spent several years, primarily involving herself in war-work but also studying briefly in Paris at the Académie Colarossi during 1919.

Lahey initially came to prominence in Australia in 1912, when at the age of twenty she exhibited her large-scale oil painting Monday morning, depicting two women doing the weekly washing, at the annual exhibition of the Queensland Art Society. An accomplished watercolour painter, Lahey developed a strong interest in still life, particularly flower studies. Still life with fuschias (c.1930) is a bold example of her work, demonstrating her willingness to experiment with colour, composition and impasto.

A passionate supporter of the arts in Queensland, Lahey co-founded the Queensland Art Fund with Daphne Mayo, raised funds for the Queensland Art Gallery and authored several books including Art in Queensland 1859–1959. She was a member of the Contemporary Group, Sydney, the NSW Society of Artists, the Royal Queensland Art Society and the Arts Advisory Committee, Queensland Art Gallery, 1931–47.

In 1945 she won the NSW Society of Artists medal and was awarded an MBE in 1958. She is represented in the collections of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of South Australia, Queensland Art Gallery, National Gallery of Victoria, Armidale Regional Gallery and the University of Queensland Art Museum.