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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

The Gallery’s Acknowledgement of Country, and information on culturally sensitive and restricted content and the use of historic language in the collection can be found here.

Fanny Eleanor Lee

c 1855
Joseph Backler

oil on canvas laid on composition board (frame: 109.0 cm x 89.0 cm, support: 90.5 cm x 70.1 cm)

On loan to the National Portrait Gallery

Fanny Lee (1832–1905) was the only daughter of colonial landowner John Richard Tindale and his wife Mary (whose portraits by Maurice Felton are displayed nearby). Born in Bathurst, Mary was educated in Sydney and around the age of sixteen eloped with Thomas Lee, the son of another Bathurst grazier. Fanny and Thomas settled at a property named Woodlands, which became known for the racehorses Thomas bred there.

Joseph Backler arrived in Sydney in May 1832, under sentence of transportation for life for forgery. Despite his recidivism, Backler eventually gained his freedom and from the mid-1840s worked itinerantly throughout New South Wales. Fanny’s husband sat for Backler while he was in Bathurst in 1847. Fanny’s own portrait, however, is a more accomplished example of Backler’s work and is thought to have been painted later, in Sydney.

Courtesy of the Tait family

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. Works of art from the collection are reproduced as per the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). The use of images of works from the collection may be restricted under the Act. Requests for a reproduction of a work of art can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

Artist and subject

Joseph Backler (age 42 in 1855)

Fanny E. Lee (age 23 in 1855)

© National Portrait Gallery 2022
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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

This website comprises and contains copyrighted materials and works. Copyright in all materials and/or works comprising or contained within this website remains with the National Portrait Gallery and other copyright owners as specified.

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. The use of images of works of art reproduced on this website and all other content may be restricted under the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). Requests for a reproduction of a work of art or other content can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

The National Portrait Gallery is an Australian Government Agency