HerStory Archive

ALLPORT, Mary Morton

Also known as: Mary Morton Chapman (maiden name)

Born: May 17, 1806

Died: June 10, 1895

Special Achievements:

Mary Allport was Tasmania's first professional woman artist. She exhibited in local exhibitions and published lithographs. She advertised her professional services as a portrait miniaturist and gave painting lessons to her children and their friends.  Mary painted miniatures, landscapes and studies of flora and fauna. Flowers in the wild, rather than in formal gardens, apparently appealed to Mary Allport as subjects. She was the first colonial woman lithographer, etcher and engraver, but her contribution was only fully appreciated following the 1965 bequest by her great-grandson, Henry Allport, of the Allport Library and Museum of Fine Arts, which contained so much of her work.

In 1855 she exhibited a chess table at the Universal Exhibition of Industry in Paris which featured painted wildflowers in the squares of the board. Both Mary and her husband were intellectuals with a particular interest in natural history, and both were founding members of the Tasmanian Society, which later became the Royal Society of Tasmania.