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Louisa Swan

Tasmanian Honour Roll of Women logo
Louisa Swan

Awarded for service to the Arts

Born: 1860

Died: 1955

Entered on roll: 2009


Louisa Swan was born into a wealthy pastoralist’s family in Hobart in 1860. She studied art at the Hobart Technical College but was largely a self-taught artist. Louisa was a landscape painter and enamellist and was pivotal in the promotion of art in Tasmania.

In 1883, Louisa visited Melbourne and learnt about art societies and their importance in promoting and assisting artists. At the age of 24, she returned to Hobart and along with fellow artist Maria Evans, she founded the Tasmanian Art Association, later to be known as the Art Society of Tasmania. Louisa was the first Treasurer and Maria Evans the Secretary.

The Society held annual exhibitions. Louisa helped organise these exhibitions and gave lessons in the art of painting and drawing. In the 1890s, Louisa was instrumental in persuading major mainland artists to exhibit in Tasmania. Louisa continued to hold various positions within the Tasmanian Art Society and in 1901, Louisa was made an honourary Life Member.

Louisa was also a founding member of the Launceston Drawing Club, which later became known as the Launceston Art Society. Both this Society and the Art Society of Tasmania flourish to this day.

Louisa exhibited widely with the Launceston and Tasmanian Art Societies from 1893 until 1949. Her work was also shown in the Sesquicentennial Art Exhibition 1804-1954 (Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery) and at the Victorian Art Society Exhibition in 1901.

Louisa had many other interests including the Queen Mary Club and political groups. Louisa was also fundamental in the formation of the Tasmanian Red Cross.

Louisa Swan died in Hobart in 1955. She is remembered not only for her own art, but for the support and assistance she afforded other artists in establishing their careers. She was an important figure in Tasmania and a role model to other women in achieving in a field largely dominated by men.

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