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Elizabeth Rankin: Pyjama Girl

A painting of a blurry man in glasses holding a yellow robe.

Elizabeth Rankin
Oil and wax on paper
Image courtesy the artist

Artist Elizabeth Rankin presented a vibrant series of oil paintings that explored the intrigue and mystery of the Pyjama Girl murder case that occurred in Albury in 1934.

The artist first learned of the infamous case as a young girl visiting the Royal Easter Show in Sydney in the 1950's. In an early 'true crime' exhibit presented by the NSW Police, gory details and evidence from the case was presented alongside May the 'Fat Lady', contortionists, farm animals and rows of show bags.

In September 1934, the body of a young woman was found in a storm water drain on the outskirts of Albury near Splitters Creek. She was deceased, badly disfigured, and wearing distinctive yellow silk pyjamas. Henceforth the victim became known as the 'Pyjama Girl'. Her body was unable to be identified, so it was preserved and put on display at Sydney University in the hope someone would be able to identify her.

10 years later, dental records were used to identify the victim as missing Sydney woman Linda Agostini. Linda’s husband, Antonio Agostini, was charged for her manslaughter in 1944, serving 4 of his 6-year sentence before being deported to Italy. The case drew national attention and has persisted in popular culture in a television series, theatre productions, and true crime literature exploring the details and persistent questions the public had with the case.