Australian Dictionary of Biography

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Jane Sutherland (1853–1928)

by Frances Lindsay

This article was published:

Jane Sutherland (1853-1928), painter and teacher, was born on 26 December 1853 in New York, eldest daughter of George Sutherland, woodcarver, and his wife Jane, née Smith, both Scottish born. The family arrived in Sydney in 1864 and moved to Melbourne in 1870 where George became a drawing instructor with the Department of Education and exhibited with the Victorian Academy of Arts (1875-78). He was joined by his brothers, Alexander and John, and the Sutherlands played a distinguished role in science, education and the arts; Alexander, George and William were Jane's brothers.

At the National Gallery School of Design Jane studied under Thomas Clark in 1871-75, O. R. Campbell in 1877-81 and Frederick McCubbin in 1886. She attended the school of painting in 1877 under Eugen von Guerard and in 1882-85 under George Folingsby. In October 1883 she was awarded the Robert Wallen prize of five guineas at the annual students' exhibition. She exhibited in 1878 with the Victorian Academy of Arts, then with the Australian Artists' Association, and with the Victorian Artists' Society (formed 1888) until 1911. From 1888 she shared a studio with Clara Southern in Grosvenor Chambers, Collins Street, where Tom Roberts also had a studio. One of the first women elected (1894) to the Buonarotti Society, she was a councillor (1900) of the V.A.S. In 1899, 1903 and 1906 she sent paintings to the federal exhibitions at the South Australian Society of Arts, and in 1907 to the Australian Exhibition of Women's Work in Melbourne.

Sutherland was the leading female artist in the group of Melbourne painters who broke with the nineteenth-century tradition of studio art by sketching and painting directly from nature. She accompanied artists such as Roberts, McCubbin and Walter Withers on plein-air sketching trips to the outlying rural districts of Alphington, Templestowe and Box Hill. Her lyrical landscapes—such as 'The Mushroom Gatherers' (c.1895) and 'Field Naturalists' (c.1896)—are often the setting for women engaged in rural activities, or for children at play.

About 1904 Jeannie Sutherland suffered a mild stroke. Thereafter her younger brother William helped her to move around and she continued to produce small works in oils and pastel, including a number of landscape views of the Yarra River at Kew and Abbotsford. Assisted by her cousin and fellow artist Jean Goodlet Sutherland, she also exhibited and gave art lessons. William's death in 1911 brought an end to her mobility and to her career. She died on 25 July 1928 at her Kew home and was buried in the Presbyterian section of Box Hill cemetery. Her estate was sworn for probate at £223.

Select Bibliography

  • S. Rosewarne and F. Lindsay, Sutherland, exhibition catalogue (Melb, 1977)
  • J. Clark and B. Whitelaw, Golden Summers: Heidelberg and Beyond, exhibition catalogue (Syd, 1985)
  • Lip, 1978-79
  • Argus (Melbourne), 26 July 1928.

Citation details

Frances Lindsay, 'Sutherland, Jane (1853–1928)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1990, accessed online 20 April 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 12, (Melbourne University Press), 1990

View the front pages for Volume 12

© Copyright Australian Dictionary of Biography, 2006-2024

Life Summary [details]


26 December, 1853
New York, New York, United States of America


25 July, 1928 (aged 74)
Kew, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

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