Gertrude Olga Louise Leviny
Gertrude Olga Louise Leviny was born in 1879. She took art and wood-carving classes at the Castlemaine School of Mines in the early 1900s. Beautifully carved pieces attesting to her skill can be seen at Buda, such as the wooden boot stool with carved dragons at one end, and a number of picture frames and trinket boxes amongst other items. She also enjoyed needlework, and made raffia hats and jewellery.
Gertrude wished to train as a nurse and commenced studies that were cut short when she contracted typhoid fever in 1903. In 1906 she suffered from meningitis, and was to have poor health throughout her life. Whilst recovering in 1906, she became engaged to a man by the name of Edgar, but the wedding was cancelled two days before the planned date for the ceremony in 1907, most probably at Gertrude’s instigation. In the late 1920s Gertrude moved to South Yarra in Melbourne, but returned to Castlemaine after two years, continuing to live at Buda until her death in 1969 aged 89.
Buda historic house and garden in Castlemaine contains a rich legacy of the creative spirit of the Leviny Family, who lived there for over 118 years. The Leviny daughters were encouraged to pursue their artistic interests at a time when women were being given more opportunities to study art and take up careers. They worked across a range of media including painting, woodcarving, metalwork, needlework and photography.
It was largely due to the foresight of last surviving sister, Hilda, that Buda was preserved as a house and garden museum when she sold the property to the Castlemaine Art Gallery in 1970. Her sisters, Mary and Kate, left a broader civic legacy through their involvement in establishing the Castlemaine Art Gallery in 1913, and assisting with the development of the gallery’s fine collection of prints in the late 1920s.
Text adapted from the booklet Buda and the Leviny Family, Lauretta Zilles (2011)
Gertrude reading, c1915 taken by Kate Leviny.
Photograph from the collection of Buda Historic Home & Garden.