A portrait of theatre director Betty Burstall by family friend and artist, Arthur Boyd AC OBE, created in 1945. Oil on canvas measuring 80 centimetres in height by 64 centimetres wide. The portrait focuses on Betty’s head and torso. Her face is luminous and large dark eyes draw the viewer into the work. The dark curls of her hair nearly touch the top of the canvas. Her body has been cropped at the chest and shoulders which fills the lower half of the painting. She is angled to the right of the frame with her left shoulder in view.

Short overlapping brushstrokes create a heavily textured surface for the skin of her face and neck. Betty’s face glows warmly in pale creamy flesh tones. The skin across her cheeks and nose blossom to darker shades of pinks and red. This creates a dramatic contrast with the plain dark background.

Voluminous brunette curls flick loosely upwards to frame her broad round face. Her hair is cut to rest above her shoulders. Her left earlobe peeks out amid the dark curls which are tamed into a side part on the right. A few curls casually caress her short forehead. Her deep-set eyes are heavily lidded underneath a prominent brow. She has a long nose and a closed bow-shaped mouth slightly downturned above a softly rounded chin. Her expression is considered, direct and serious.

Betty wears a long-sleeved olive-green top with a pointed collar. Loose brushstrokes create textured clothing. Light glistens off the fabric, which appears nearly golden around her neck. A dark line of paint creates a gathered effect across the front of her chest.

The combination of thickly applied paint, surrounding dark background and her sombre expression create a weightiness in the portrait.

The artist’s signature, Arthur Boyd, is painted in black on the lower right.

Audio Description written by Alana Sivell and voiced by Amy Middleby