Nora Heysen AM (1911- 2003) was an Australian artist, the first woman to win the prestigious Archibald Prize in 1938 for portraiture and the first Australian woman appointed as an official war artist.
Ruth, 1933 oil on canvas
Heysen was born in Hahndorf, South Australia as the fourth child of landscape painter. Hans Heysen and his wife Selma Heysen (née Bartels), and was raised at The Cedars in Hahndorf in the Adelaide Hills.
She studied art from 1926 to 1930 at the School of Fine Arts in Adelaide under F. Millward Grey and sold paintings to the Art Gallery of New South Wales and the Art Gallery of South Australia in 1930. From 1930 to 1933, she continued to study two days a week at the School, and worked in her own studio the rest of the time. In 1931 she visited Sydney with her parents, and spent two weeks studying at the Julian Ashton Art School.
Self portrait, 1932
Heysen's first solo exhibition was held in Sydney in 1933. In 1934 she traveled to London with her family, remaining in Europe, after they returned home, until 1937 studying and painting. When she returned to Australia she returned briefly to Adelaide and then moved to Sydney.
Self portrait, 1934
Self portrait, 1938

Down and out in London, 1937
Interior with Josephine, London, 1934
Interior, 1935 - 1938
London Breakfast, 1935

Portrait of Della Haynes, 1960
Portrait of Geoffrey Dutton, 1933
Cedars Interior, ca. 1930
Mme Elink Schuurman, 1938

In 1943, she became the first woman to be appointed as an Australian war artist at the rank of captain. "I was commissioned to depict the women's war effort. There was that restriction on what I did. So I was lent around to all the services, the air force, the navy and the army, to depict the women working at everything they did during the war". During her service Heysen completed over 170 works of art and was discharged from service in 1946 in New Guinea.

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