Collection Online
The seamstress's reverie
oil on wood panel
16.6 × 22.3 cm irreg.
Place/s of Execution
Kew, Melbourne, Victoria
inscribed in red paint l.l: - ARTHUR LOUREIRO - / 1887
inscribed in red paint on reverse: Studio
Accession Number
Australian Painting
Credit Line
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Presented through The Art Foundation of Victoria by Sir Thomas and Lady Travers, Governors, 1985
This digital record has been made available on NGV Collection Online through the generous support of The Vizard Foundation
Gallery location
Gallery 6
Level 2, NGV Australia
Subjects (general)
Daily Life Interiors Portraits
Subjects (specific)
daylight domesticity houses machine sewing (technique) seated figures sewing machines (equipment) sideboards (furniture) women (female humans)

From the 1840s onwards the suffering seamstress, made to sew all day and night, appeared as a sympathetic figure in Victorian literature. A symbol of the plight of the working poor, fictional seamstresses were a thinly veiled appeal to middle-class readers to advocate for social reform. Here Loueiro presents us with a more poetic image that aligns meditative sewing with notions of domestic economy.


This fine little frame is a good example of the small-scale use of the classical revival form we more commonly associate with robust frames for larger, domestic-scale pictures. It is nevertheless an imposing frame for the small panel it presents.


1 Hilary Maddocks, ‘Picture Framemakers in Melbourne c. 1860–1930’ in vol. 1, Frames, Melbourne Journal of Technical Studies in Art, University of Melbourne Conservation Service, 1999.

J. & T. Thallon
95 Collins Street East, Melbourne

The frame is constructed from a basic softwood profile, mitred and nailed at the corners. The inner scotia carries small-scale carved fluting. The back edge ornament is composition ribbon and stick. The leading-edge ornament is a composition bead course between thin taeniae. The inner-edge ornament is composition dart. The bulk of the frame appears to have been matte oil-gilded on a pale yellow bole, except for the inner edge taenia, which is burnished on a black bole. The leading-edge taenia may have been similarly burnished. The slip is water gilded. The working edge is painted ochre.


A good deal of the surface has been over-painted in the past. Some losses occur in the composition elements.

34.8 x 40.5 x 5.0 cm; sight 15.5 x 21.0 cm