A Feminist a Day: Nora Heysen

Who is she?

432880-111015-nora-heysenNora Heysen was the first woman to win the prestigious Archibald Prize, in 1938, and the first Australian woman to be a war artist.

She had her first solo exhibition in Sydney in 1933 and entered two portraits in the 1938 Archibald Prize, one of which won.

Her win caused a storm of controversy – other artists criticised her painting and said that pursuing the craft was ‘unfeminine’.


Nora went on to become an Australian war artist, completing 170 works before being discharged from service in 1946.

Why should we thank her?

Nora’s Archibald was a revolution in Australian art – up until then, portraiture had been considered a male domain.

Fun fact 

A 1939 article in The Australian Women’s Weekly ran with the headline “Girl Painter Who Won Art Prize is also Good Cook”, which included her favourite recipes and how she managed to combine domestic duties with painting.


A Feminist a Day: Nora Heysen

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