Dora Ohlfsen

(Australia 22 Aug 1869 – 07 Feb 1948)

Gara delle pattuglie, Roma, 1913

Other titles:
Italian Ministry for War Memento [from 1911 - 1916]
Not on display
Further information

Dora Ohlfsen, born in Ballarat, Victoria in 1869 rose to artistic promise at an early age. Her European roots stemmed from parents of Scandinavian descent, who had migrated to Australia to prosper in the newfound colonies. The Olfsen-Bagge family upbringing nurtured talents in music, languages and the arts. Fluent in German, and distinguished as an accomplished student of piano, Dora studied music in Berlin under the skilled composer Moritz Moszkowski, however a sudden onset of neuritis in her arm hindered a professional music career. In St. Petersburg, she met with her lifelong partner, the well-connected Elena von Kügelgen, and the pair freely participated in Russian social and cultural events before eventually moving to Italy in 1902.

Studying informally at the French Academy in Rome, alongside Prix de Rome artists such as the sculptor Camille Alaphilippe, and the influential engraver Pierre Dautel, Dora became widely known for her aptitude in producing medallion art, and intimate ‘bas-relief’ portraits in bronze, gold and silver from her private studio and salon. Commissioned by the Italian Ministry ofWar in a competition organised by the Italian Cavalry Regiment, the 'Garra delle pattuglie, Roma' plaquette was given as an award to the “best scout” patrol in Italy for 1913. Dora Ohlfsen’s design shows strength and artistic merit and the revival of an artform which was “… of very ancient birth, and attained great perfection among the Romans and Greeks. For some centuries it seems to have declined, and was in some danger of becoming one of the lost arts; now it once more coming to the front” ("Portraits in medals" quoted in 'The British Australasian' July 26, 1906, pg. 7).

Place of origin
Rome, Italy
bronze plaque
16.3 x 21.4 x 0.7 cm
Signature & date

Signed l.l. corner, incised "DORA OHLFSEN". Not dated

Gift of Michael Cain and Ian Adrian 2019
Accession number