The daughter of the Scotsman Neill Malcolm (1828-98) and his English wife Emilie Monson Wilton (1830-1906), Fanny Osborne was born at Symonds Street in Auckland in the early years of colonial settlement. Her family lived intermittently in Auckland and elsewhere before settling permanently on Great Barrier Island in 1859, where they farmed cattle.
While the initially worked alongside another settler family, the Malcolms were soon left alone on the island and the children of the large family were educated by their parents. The family appear to have led a largely subsistance life, farming and growing crops and keeping bees. Other settlers arrived in approximately 1867, among whom was Alfred Joe Osborne who became Fanny's husband following their elopement to Auckland in 1873. Together with her husband, Fanny returned to live on Great Barrier Island, farming and raising a family of 13 children.
Having exhibited a keen interest in drawing as a child, Fanny's skills were evidently nurtured by her parents. She went on to paint native flora in watercolour and is believed to have prepared albums of her watercolours for sale to visitors to the island.
Be in the know
Sign up to our newsletter
Thanks for signing up
We’ll be sharing the latest news from the Gallery and our online shop. You can change your email preferences at any time by following the link at the bottom of our newsletters.