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Self portrait
, n.d.

by Ada May Plante

pen and ink, pencil on paper laid on cardboard (sheet: 19.5 x 13.0 cm)

Ada May Plante, artist, was born in New Zealand and came to Australia with her family in 1888. Between 1894 and 1899 she studied at the National Gallery School, where Hugh Ramsay, Margaret Preston and Max Meldrum were among her fellow students. She then travelled to Europe with another of her cohorts, Christina Asquith Baker, the impecunious pair allegedly living off biscuits while studying at the Académie Julien in Paris from 1902 to 1904. After returning to Melbourne, Plante began exhibiting with the Victorian Artists’ Society; in 1907 she was awarded prizes for portrait and figure painting at the Women’s Work Exhibition. Having shifted to post-impressionism during the 1920s, she became associated with the Melbourne Contemporary Group and for a time resided at an artists’ house in Ivanhoe with Lina Bryans and others. From 1931 she exhibited consistently with the Society of Women Painters and Sculptors; and from her first solo show, in 1945, the National Gallery of Victoria acquired a painting later judged among the best of the modern Australian works to feature in the Gallery’s 1949 rehang. Plante lived shyly and narrowly on an inherited income, and spent her final years living with Christina Baker in Melbourne’s east.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Gift of Dr Penny Olsen, Peter Woollard and Artemis Georgiades 2015
Accession number: 2015.143