Eva de Jong-Duldig

Artists’ Daughter, Teacher, Tennis-Player, Founder and Patron

Eva was born in Vienna in 1938, one month before Nazi Germany annexed Austria.  With her parents, Karl and Slawa Duldig, she was fortunate to escape to Switzerland later in that year. Shortly after the family travelled to Singapore and then in September 1940 to Australia, where they were interned at Tatura as ‘enemy aliens’ for almost two years.

After moving to Melbourne Eva completed her schooling at Korowa CEGGS, and also showed considerable sporting aptitude. She graduated from Melbourne University in Physical Education and Arts and worked as a teacher. Encouraged by her father, who played international soccer and tennis, Eva became a leading Australian tennis player and in 1961 played at Wimbledon, reaching the quarterfinals. Later that year, at the Maccabiah Games in Israel, she met her Dutch husband, Henri, and went to live in Holland. She became National Champion of The Netherlands and represented Holland at Wimbledon and in the Federation Cup.

Eva’s daughter, Tania, was born in Holland in 1964 after which the family returned to Australia where her sons Antony and Pieter were born. Aside from family duties Eva worked as a recreation consultant, writer and a designer of children’s play spaces. After Slawa’s passing in 1975 Eva assisted her father in his artistic practice and when he died in 1986 she became the custodian of the significant artistic oeuvre and personal collections of her parents. She restored the family home, kept all the contents intact and in 2002 facilitated the establishment of a not-for-profit public museum and art gallery known as the Duldig Studio.

In her role as Founding Director, Eva initiated many public and educational programs including, since 1986, the Annual Duldig Lecture on Sculpture at the National Gallery of Victoria. With the support of the Austrian government she enabled a Karl Duldig travelling exhibition from the Duldig collection to be shown in Vienna and Krakow in 2003. Another touring exhibition visited seven Victorian regional museums in 2006-08, and Karl Duldig’s work was included in major exhibitions on Viennese art and design at the National Gallery of Victoria in 1990 and 2011.

Eva’s involvement in community organisations included her role as President of the Bezalel Fellowship of Arts and membership of the arts advisory committee of the Jewish Museum of Australia. She was a founding member and former Chair of the Public Art Committee of the National Trust. In 2009 Eva was made Stonnington Citizen of the Year for Art and Culture. She has written on sport, art and local history in the Australian Jewish News, the Malvern Newssheet and other journals. ‘Women of Letters’ published her story in Yours Truly in 2013.  

Eva retired as Director in 2014 but continues, as Founder and Patron, to contribute to the Duldig Studio through her personal knowledge of and insights into the family history and the collection. Eva also completed a personal account of her family’s remarkable story in her memoir, Driftwood – Escape and survival through art which was first published by Australian Scholarly Publishing in 2017 and reprinted in 2022.