Born: 22 July 1855, Adelaide, South Australia
Died: 13 February 1938, Adelaide, South Australia
Rosa Catherine Fiveash was born in Adelaide, the youngest daughter of Robert A Fiveash. From 1881-188 she trained at the Adelaide School of Art. Her first commission was to illustrate "The Forest Flora of South Australia" by John Ednie Brown published in 1882. This commission established her reputation as a botanical illustrator. Her skills as a scientific illustrator were highlighted when commissioned to illustrate the paper by Professor Edward Charles Stirling (AA 309) titled "Description of a New Genus and Species of Masupialia, Notorycytes Typhlops." published 1891 (RSA Transactions 14 1890-91). Her watercolurs of copies of coloured drawings of Toas by Henry James Hillier (SAMA 1123) accompanied the paper "Description of Toas or Australian Aboriginal Direction Signs" by Stirling and Edgar Ravenswood Waite (AA 356) was based upon the manuscript written and collection made by Reverend Johann Georg Reuther, (AA 266), published in the Records of the South Australian Museum Vol. 1 No2 August 1919. She pioneered china-painting in Adelaide attending to the whole process, including firing. She collaborated with Dr RS Rogers for 30 years, illustrating his publications on orchids, including his section on them in JM Black's "Flora of South Australia Part I" 2nd edition. Apart from 2 years overseas, she lived all her life in the family home, Gable House, North Adelaide, with her sister. She was considered the foremost botanical artist in Australia and continued painting until the age of 80.
The South Australian Museum Archives contains an oil painting, coloured drawing and lithographic illustrations of the Notorycytes Typhlops (Marsupial Mole), and a coloured drawing of the insect Cyphocrania Goliath Gray. The Reuther collection contains 69 Fiveash watercolours of Toas.