Historical information

This mid-Victorian hand embroidered fire screen was created by Louisa and Alice Henty, two of the daughters of Francis Henty and Mary Ann (Lawrence) Henty. Their father, Francis Henty, was the youngest son of Thomas Henty, who with his family, their retainers and property moved to the Australian colonies between 1829 and 1832. In 1834, Francis’ older brother, Edward, sailed from Launceston in Van Diemen’s Land to what was to become Portland in the western part of Port Phillip District [Victoria]. Francis, together with the first flock of Merino sheep [in Victoria], followed some months later. The first and second generations of the Henty family established vast pastoral properties in the Western part of the Port Phillip District. Francis Henty managed ‘Merino Downs’ near Casterton, while also living in his retirement at ‘Field Place' in Kew.


The Henty Collection of nineteenth and twentieth century clothing, including outerwear and underwear, was collected, stored and exhibited over time by female family members descended from Francis and Mary Ann Henty. During the twentieth century, items from the collection were modelled in two fashion parades by various descendants [1937, 1959]. The items in the collection are historically and aesthetically significant, with provenance provided by oral and written tradition within or held by the family. A number of the items in the collection are very rare survivors, and provide researchers with the evidence needed to reconstruct the lives of notable women in the Port Phillip District [later Victoria] during the nineteenth and early twentieth century.

Physical description

Multicoloured silk embroidered floral composition on a black fabric background created by Louisa and Alice Henty. The embroidery is held behind glass and is protected by blackened wood at the back. The screen is suspended in an ebonized and gilded frame with two rows of spindle decoration.