Also known as
Mrs Isabella Lane
As a flower painter and landscapist, Rielly was highly active on the art show scene, receiving commendations at Agricultural Society and Art Academy shows, as well as international exhibitions. Originally from London, she spent most of her life in Queensland, where she devoted much of her career to depicting Australia's flora.
painter and craftworker, was born at Bayswater, London, the daughter of John and Sarah Rielly. By 1870 she was living at 3 Eastbourne Street, Windsor (Prahran), an inner Melbourne suburb, with her painter brother Henry Rielly (c.1858-1905) and her sister Louisa (later Aplin ) who painted flowers. They remained there until moving to Stanthorpe, Queensland in 1884. Isa exhibited 'Cultivated and Wild Flowers, manufactured of Paper by Exhibitor’ at the 1872 Victorian Exhibition preliminary to the 1873 London International Exhibition. Her painted paper flowers in a glass shade (cat. 62, for sale at 15 guineas) were 'much admired for their fidelity to nature’ when shown in the Victorian section of the Agricultural Society of NSW’s 1873 Metropolitan Intercolonial Exhibition.
She exhibited paintings with the Victorian Academy of Arts (VAA) between 1875 and 1885. At the 1880 Melbourne International Exhibition Waterfall, at Macedon by 'Miss I. Rielly’ was exhibited by the VAA among a collection of members’ work and she won a certificate for her paper flowers shown in the Ladies’ Court. Both she and Henry were awarded medals at a Queensland exhibition in 1885, according to Once a Month . She had paintings in the 1886 London Indian and Colonial Exhibition and in the 1888-89 Melbourne Centennial International Exhibition, at the latter showing Erica in the Ladies’ Court and 'Oil painting, from nature’ in the Queensland Court.
In 1888 Isa Rielly married James Waldegrave Lane at Warwick, Queensland. She died at Fortitude Valley, Brisbane in 1896, aged 41. Her oil paintings, Pansies and Wild English Heath (n.f.s.), Pelargonium and Chinese Primula (£12) and Rose and Wild Fuschia (n.f.s.) were shown posthumously at the eighth annual exhibition of the Queensland Art Society in July 1896 and Roses and Ivy Geraniums (10 gns) was included in the Society’s display at the 1897 Queensland International Exhibition.
During her lifetime Isa Rielly appears to have worked primarily a flower painter, although no botanical works are now known. At the 1875 exhibition of the NSW Academy of Art she showed an original watercolour Flower for sale at £4. She won a Highly Commended certificate for a painted group of flowers shown in the Agricultural Society’s exhibition that year and continued to send flower paintings to Sydney from Melbourne for sale. Pelargonium (5 gns) and Waratah (10 gns) were shown with the Academy of Art in 1876 and the latter was awarded a Certificate of Merit. Her watercolour Sturt’s Desert Pea (4 gns) was shown the following year along with two oil paintings – Grapes, from New South Wales (6 gns) and Camellias and Snow Flakes (6 gns). In 1881 her painting of native flowers and birds won first prize of £10 in a competition held by the Sydney publishers and printers John Sands for pictures to be reproduced as chromolithographs.
Isa Rielly had long painted landscapes as well. Her watercolour Cottage on the Templestowe Road was shown non-competitively with the VAA at the 1875 Melbourne Intercolonial Exhibition. At the 1879-80 Sydney International Exhibition she showed an oil landscape, Brighton and Elsternwick Beach . Other oils, Scene at Maddingly and Evening at Gippsland , were shown with the Art Society in 1881, the former evincing, according to the Sydney Morning Herald , the artist’s 'loving desire to reproduce the aerial effects and wonderful tints which nature is so lavish in at early morning and sunset’.