painter, was born on 11 November 1875 at Richmond, Victoria, the only child of William Mountier Bale and Marion, née Adams. She attended the Methodist Ladies College in 1885-92 where she became interested in the arts. Having decided to become a painter, she took private lessons from May Vale and a few from Hugh Ramsay . She was elected a member of the Victorian Artists’ Society (VAS) in 1894 before being enrolled at the Melbourne National Gallery Schools in 1895. She won nine student prizes during the course of her studies, including a special prize of £3 for a still-life subject in the 1889 [sic] student exhibition ( Illustrated Sydney News , 28 November 1889, 24).

From 1905 Bale was a consistent exhibitor with the Women’s Art Club (renamed the Melbourne Society of Women Painters in 1930) and she also showed work with the Victorian Artists’ Society. She edited the V.A.S. Journal of the Arts from March 1918 until publication ceased in February 1919 and played an important part in the Society’s development. During the stormy years of Max Meldrum 's presidency (1916-18), a group of his supporters formed the Twenty Melbourne Painters group; Bale was their first secretary. Under her leadership it flourished for thirty-six years.

Landscape, portrait and still life subjects were her main interest and she became noted for her flower studies. She never left Victoria; most of her landscapes and interiors were painted at Castlemaine and Kew where she spent much of her life. Membership of the Australian Art Association gave her the opportunity to exhibit regularly with the major artists of the period from all states. In 1923 she shared an exhibition with Bernice Edwell and Jo Sweatman at the Athenaeum Gallery in Melbourne. {She may have also exhibited with just Sweatman in 1922. See Woman’s World 1/7 (1922).} She had a solo exhibition of her paintings at Melbourne’s Fine Art Society’s Gallery from 2 to15 April 1930. She also exhibited with Brisbane’s Half Dozen Group of Artists in 1943-48. Two of her paintings were included in the exhibition of Australian Art in London in 1923 and she exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1933 and at the Paris Salon in 1939. In 1946 she was commissioned to paint a portrait of General Vasy for the Australian War Memorial.

She was a vigorous fighter for her beliefs and wrote numerous letters to newspapers on subjects such as purchases for the National Gallery of Victoria, the demolition of historic buildings, and the axing of trees in Castlemaine. She sent a letter of protest to the Governor-General concerning the formation of the Australian Academy of Art.

Miss Bale died at Royal Melbourne Hospital on 14 February 1955. Her will directed her trustees to see that a Trust Fund was set up for the purpose of establishing an Art Scholarship bearing her name to encourage painting in representational or traditional art. The scholarship, first awarded in 1969, allowed the holder to live in the estate’s property in Walpole Street, Kew. In 1981 the Trust changed the terms of the scholarship, making it primarily a travelling one to enable Australian artists to study the works of Old Masters.

Perry, Peter
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