Peony roses in a glass bowl
Peony roses in a glass bowl

Clara Southern

1861 - 1940 Peony roses in a glass bowl 1909
  • oil on board
73.5 cm x 28.5 cm

Clara Southern (1860-1940), artist, was born on 3 October 1860 at Kyneton, Victoria, third surviving child of John Southern, farmer, and his wife Jane, nee Elliott, both from England. A boarder at Trentham State School, Clara attended the Minerva Academy for girls, Kyneton, where she showed an aptitude for drawing and music. She enrolled at Madame Mouchette's Melbourne studio and later took lessons from Walter Withers. From 1883 to 1887 she studied at the National Gallery School, Melbourne, under G. F. Folingsby and Frederick McCubbin. A tall, lithe beauty with reddish fair hair, she was nicknamed 'Panther' and became friends with fellow students E. M. 'Jo' Sweatman and Agnes 'Mama' Kirkwood. In January 1886 Southern ” who was also a violinist ” was admitted to the Buonarotti Society, a sketching club whose members included writers and musicians. From 1888 to 1900 she shared a studio with Jane Sutherland at fashionable Grosvenor Chambers in Collins Street where she gave painting lessons. In 1907 her landscapes were awarded a prize in the fine arts section of the Australian Exhibition of Women's Work.On 9 November 1905 she had married John Arthur Flinn at St John's Anglican Church, Blackburn. They lived at Blythe Bank, Warrandyte, along the Yarra valley from Heidelberg, where they built a cottage and later a studio. Southern made the area popular with other artists, among them Harold HerbertPenleigh Boyd, Sweatman, Louis McCubbin, Frank Crozier and Charles Wheeler, and an artists' camp was soon established. Her sisters Sarah (also a painter) and Dora both lived near by. Clara's subjects were mainly still life and landscapes. Aiming 'to interpret the message of the Australian bush', she produced work of lyricism and charm, particularly her paintings of Warrandyte, that reflected her devotion to the area where she remained for the rest of her life.

Source: The Australian National University


More by this artist

Clara Southern 1861 - 1940 Bush camp
  • oil on canvas
49.5 cm x 29 cm

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The Wesfarmers Collection of Australian Art acknowledges all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Traditional Custodians of Country and recognises their continuing connection to land, sea, culture and community. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

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