Robert DOWLING
England 1827 – England 1886
Australia 1834-1857, 1884-1886

Miss Robertson of Colac (Dolly) 1885-86
oil on canvas
91.0 (h) x 120.0 (w) cm
Acquired with the assistance of the Masterpieces for the Nation Fund 2010
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
NGA 2009.562

Dowling painted this portrait of 19-year-old Elise Robertson (1866–1939), known as ‘Dolly’ to her family, in the late summer of 1885 in the garden of her home The Hill, at Colac in the Western District of Victoria.

Dolly was initially portrayed in a white summer dress. Unhappy with the result, Dolly requested Dowling to re-paint her wearing a dark brown dress, which he did in 1886. He also added other elements to the composition: a Japanese cushion and tea service, a book in her left hand and her loving dog at her feet. It was one of his very last paintings.