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Lahey, Frances Vida (1882 - 1968)


26 August 1882
Pimpama, Queensland, Australia


Vida Lahey began her art studies in Brisbane around 1903, before training at the National Gallery School, Victoria (1905-1906, 1909); she lived in London from 1915, moving to Paris after the war, where she studied at Colarossi's Academy. She exhibited regularly in Brisbane and Sydney during the 1930s and 1940s, specialising in still lives, interiors and some landscape. Lahey had a strong commitment to the arts, teaching both adult and childrens art classes, and along with Daphne Mayo was heavily involved in raising funds for, and promoting, the Queensland Art Gallery. She served on the gallery's Art Advisory Committee (1931-37) 'and often argued for a proper purchasing policy and a qualified full-time director - which occurred only in 1949'. She was commissioned by the Gallery to write Art in Queensland 1859-1959 which was published in 1959 and remains 'a basic text for Queensland art history'. According to Nancy Underhill, Lahey's main contribution was 'to encourage excellence and public involvement in the visual arts, especially in Queensland, and to serve as a point of contact between Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne'(Heritage). Vida Lahey was appointed to The Order of the British Empire - Member (Civil), 1 January 1958, for services to art in Queensland. Her painting 'Beach Umbrellas' was featured on the 1996 $1.20 stamp for Australia Day.

Sources used to compile this entry: MacAulay, Bettina, Songs of Colour: The Art of Vida Lahey, Queensland Art Gallery, South Brisbane, 1989; Maynard, Margaret, 'Lahey, Frances Vida (1882-1968)', in Australian Dictionary of Biography Online, Australian National University, 2006,; Underhill, Nancy D.H., 'Lahey, Frances Vida (1882-1968), painter', in Kerr, Joan (ed.), Heritage: The National Women's Art Book, Craftsman House, Roseville East, NSW, 1995, p. 385.

Archival resources

National Library of Australia Oral History Collection

  • [Conversation with Vida Lahey] [sound recording] / [interviewer : Hazel de Berg], 26 November 1965, ORAL DeB 152; National Library of Australia Oral History Collection. Details

State Library of Queensland, John Oxley Library

  • Vida Lahey, letters and scrapbook, c. 1919 - 1920; State Library of Queensland, John Oxley Library. Details

Helen Morgan

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