Gwendolyn Grant / Australia 1877–1968 / Plate 1915 / China painted white earthenware with border of four butterflies in black/brown, white and red against a grey ground enclosing GC (in monogram) black rim / 2.5 x 22.2cm (diam.) / Gift of Miss Anne Grant 1988 / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art

Gwendolyn Grant
Plate 1915

Not Currently on Display

Gwendolyn Grant is an important figure in Queensland’s art history, better known for her oil and pastel paintings — including beach studies and portraits of prominent Brisbanites — than for her china painting and pottery. She began china painting as early as 1907, and exhibited at the ‘First Australian Exhibition of Women’s Work’ in Melbourne in that same year. Her foray into the medium was perhaps influenced by the exhibition’s own emphasis on applied arts, as well as her interest in domestic subjects, inspired by ideas of femininity based on home and family.

Gwendolyn Grant (née Stanley) was born in Ipswich in 1877. She was educated at Miss Clark’s School, Toowong, and studied art at the Brisbane Central Technical College sometime between 1895 and 1902, under R. Godfrey Rivers.

From 1907 to 1911 Grant studied at the National Gallery School in Melbourne. She was active in student affairs and was one of the organisers of the annual ‘bal masque’, an elaborate costumed carnival ball on European art academy lines, probably influenced by Bernard Hall’s student experiences in Munich. Her Melbourne training is apparent, especially in her earlier work. Students first studied drawing under Frederick McCubbin’s gentle guidance, then followed Bernard Hall’s stern discipline in life and painting classes.

Back in Brisbane in 1912, Grant shared a studio with Vida Lahey in the Fitzroy Buildings, which also housed the rooms of the then Queensland Art Society. She married William Gregory Grant in 1915. They had two children, Gregor and Ann, both of whom were the subjects of many paintings. Oils and pastels were Grant’s metier. Her sunlit beach studies in oils, often dominated by women and children, express warmth and freedom. She catches dazzling light and deep shadow. Commissioned portraits were another part of her oeuvre and many prominent Brisbane citizens were painted by her. Grant also wrote art criticism for the ‘Daily Mail’ and the Brisbane ‘Courier’, and published a series of interviews with Queensland artists for the ‘Daily Mail’.