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United States of America 1871 – 1961

  • Australia May 1914-1935, India 1935-37

Forest portrait: Eucalyptus urnigera c.1919 Place made: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Materials & Technique: prints, ink on silk; frame: Japanese oak silk, photo-transfer lithograph; frame: Japanese oak Support: silk

Dimensions: framed (overall) 126.0 h x 63.4 w x 1.5 d cm visible image 99.0 h x 49.0 w cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 2013
Accession No: NGA 2013.4167

Marion Mahony Griffin graduated as an architect from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1894 and joined the office of Frank Lloyd Wright in Chicago in 1895, where she became a key figure in the practice until 1909. As Wright’s principal delineator, her drawing compositions combined a building’s plan, perspective view and often a section within a stylised vertical framework of outlined trees and foliage. In 1911 she married Walter Burley Griffin, a former colleague in Wright’s office. Together they worked in collaboration on the competition for the design of the new federal capital city of Australia, Canberra. The presentation drawings she prepared for the winning entry were inspired by the graphic techniques of Japanese prints.

Marion joined Walter in Australia in 1914, where she worked with him in partnership and independently as an architect, artist and landscape designer. Her work was informed by her commitment to anthroposophy and feminism. She made a series of ink drawings on silk of the Australian bush, which she called ‘Forest portraits’, including this work, first drawn on a visit to Tasmania in 1918. Demonstrating her assured graphic skill and sense of composition, it reveals that her observations of the natural environment contributed to her work and influence as an important Australian landscape designer of the early twentieth century.

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2014
From: Collection highlights: National Gallery of Australia, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2014