Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Florence Aline Rodway (1881–1971)

by Sue Backhouse

This article was published:

Florence Aline Rodway (1881-1971), artist, was born on 11 November 1881 in Hobart, only daughter of Leonard Rodway and his wife Louisa Susan, née Phillips. She studied painting, modelling and life-drawing at the Hobart Technical College in 1897 and 1899-1901 under Ethel Nicholls and Benjamin Sheppard; Mildred Lovett was a fellow pupil. In 1902, when she briefly taught art at the college, she won a four-year scholarship to the Royal Academy schools, London. Sargent, Bacon, Solomon, Leslie and Storey were visiting masters and undoubtedly influenced her work. She passed her exams but the expense of living in London forced her return to Australia in 1906. After visiting Hobart, she settled in Sydney, joining Julian Ashton's evening classes.

During the next two years she produced oil studies, black and white illustrations for various publications including the Lone Hand, and mural designs for which there was little demand. She found her métier in pastel work and, later, miniatures, carrying off the honours in the Society of Artists' annual exhibitions of 1909 and 1910 with her portrait-studies in pastel. In 1914 Miss Rodway said, 'I always wanted to establish a portrait connection … and after the Sydney Art Gallery purchased two of my portrait studies [1910], I seemed to go ahead better'. At this time she was drawing up to twenty portraits a year, particularly of children. Her many commissions included (Sir) Adrian Knox, George Rignold, Sir William Cullen, and (Dame) Nellie Melba; J. F. Archibald and Major General (Sir) William Bridges, both commissioned by the Art Gallery of New South Wales; (Sir) Alexander MacCormick for the University of Sydney, and Leonard Rodway for the Royal Society of Tasmania. Other subjects included Julian Ashton, William Charles Wentworth, Henry Lawson and his son and daughter.

Miss Rodway exhibited regularly and was a foundation member of the Society of Women Painters in 1910 and member of the Society of Artists in 1908-30. She also exhibited fifty works in Melbourne at the Athenaeum Club in 1914.

On 12 August 1920 at St Philip's Church of England, Sydney, she married Walter Moore, a civil engineer. Although her work was not as prolific after marriage, it featured in overseas exhibitions such as the Society of Artists' Exhibition of Australian Art in London (1923), the British Empire Exhibition at Wembley (1924) and Australian Artists' Work at the Imperial Institute, London (1928).

Florence Rodway returned to Hobart with her husband and daughter about 1932 and established a home studio. She held two exhibitions with fellow Tasmanian artist Edith Holmes at the Westminster Gallery, Melbourne, in 1948 and at the Adult Education Board, Hobart, in 1953 and continued to exhibit with the Art Society of Tasmania (she was an earlier member 1898-1918) and the Tasmanian Group of Painters.

Tall, with fair hair, Florence Rodway had a strong face and direct gaze. Her ability to reveal a sitter's character was distinctive and her art ranged 'from the depiction of the strong portrait to the delicate drawing of the sweetness of childhood'. She died on 23 January 1971 in Hobart and was cremated. Her daughter survived her. Her work is included in national and State collections.

Select Bibliography

  • C. Ambrus, The Ladies' Picture Show (Syd, 1984)
  • Art and Architecture, 6, Jan-Feb 1909
  • Building (Sydney), May 1914
  • Art in Australia, 1, 1916
  • Herald (Melbourne), 18 Aug 1914
  • H. de Berg, interview with Florence Rodway (transcript, 1965, National Library of Australia).

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

Sue Backhouse, 'Rodway, Florence Aline (1881–1971)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1988, accessed online 24 June 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 11, (Melbourne University Press), 1988

View the front pages for Volume 11

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]

Alternative Names
  • Moore, Florence Aline

11 November, 1881
Hobart, Tasmania, Australia


23 January, 1971 (aged 89)
Hobart, Tasmania, Australia