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Mabel Victoria Leith Mabel Victoria Leith i(A124343 works by) (a.k.a. Mabel Leith)
Born: Established: Sheffield, South Yorkshire,
United Kingdom (UK),
Western Europe, Europe,
Gender: Female
Arrived in Australia: ca. 1922
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Illustrator and commercial artist, Mabel Victoria Leith was '"a young English artist" who worked at Smith and Julius's Sydney advertising studio in the early 1920s.

She was born in Sheffield, England, where she attended the Technical school of Art (to which she won a scholarship). During World War I,

her talents were at the disposal of the Air Ministry, and in addition she did much draughtsmanship at the famous Clyde shipyard of Wiliiam Beardmore & Co., and also in the Sheffield engineering works of John Brown & Co. ('Girl Artist', News, 29 January 1925, p.5).

She arrived in Australia around 1922; in the news article above, she notes that 'Your sunny climate attracted me when I found that conditions in Britain did not suit my health.' In 1926, she married (in Sydney) a Scotsman, Henry Humphrys ('Tea Table Gossip', Sunday Times, 27 June 1926, p.19).

Like several other young women in the firm of Smith and Julius, she drew illustrations for Sydney Ure Smith's 'upmarket publication' the The Home: An Australian Quarterly.

According to Robert Holden, Leith's cover design for the December 1922 issue of the Home marked a shift in the visual style of the journal's cover art. Described as the 'first "modern" or "contemporary" cover' for this widely admired publication, the illustration 'moved completely away from any cultural specificity to Australia and could easily have graced any Vogue or Harper's Bazaar cover for the early 1920s'. With 'its modish ebony furniture presided over by an Erté-inspired model dressed in dove grey', decorative style and sophistication have replaced the nostalgia of previous cover art which referenced 'a romantic vision of Australia's more remote colonial past'.

(Source: Dictionary of Australian Artists Online; Robert Holden Cover Up: The Art of Magazine Covers in Australia, 1995)

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Last amended 26 Aug 2015 10:11:39
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