Kathleen portrait

Mrs Geoffrey de Crespigny née Kathleen Cudmore (1908-2013), portrait by Ernest Milston

My father has a portrait in oil of his mother, my paternal grandmother, Kathleen Cudmore (1908-2013) painted about 1941 when she was 33.

The signature is ‘Milston’. Who was he? Before the Internet it was hard to find out.

Trove has made it easy. Here is newspaper article mentioning the portrait:


SEES ART FUTURE FOR AUSTRALIA (1946, March 30). News (Adelaide, SA : 1923 – 1954), p. 3. Retrieved January 15, 2018, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article128344371


Ernest Milston (1893-1968), born in Prague Czechoslovakia, graduated from the University of Prague in 1916. He was Jewish and fled Europe in 1939 and began practicing as an architect in Adelaide in 1940. He enlisted in the Australian Army in November 1942 as Ernest Muhlstein, and served with the Royal Australian Engineers. He was discharged on 20 March 1946.

In Adelaide a September 1940 newspaper review of the Spring Exhibition mentioned a portrait of a mother and son Milston exhibited. In April 1941 he was reported as being responsible for the decor of an amateur ballet performance.

After the war Milston moved to Melbourne and successfully practised as an architect. He also exhibited with the Victorian Artists’ Society and in 1945 one of the paintings he showed was my grandmother’s portrait.

My grandmother kept a newspaper clippings book and it includes a review from the 1945 exhibition by George Bell in the Sun newspaper (not apparently currently digitised by Trove).

Newspaper clippings Kathleen Sept 1945 - 1


Milston is best remembered for winning the design for the second world war memorial at the Melbourne Shrine.

Milston The Age 18 Feb 1950 pg 2

News of the Day (1950, February 18). The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 – 1954), p. 2. Retrieved January 15, 2018, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article187342730


Thanks to Trove I have been able to learn much more about the artist who painted my grandmother.

Further reading

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