William Dobell (1899-1970) was born in Cooks Hill, Newcastle NSW. He founded his interests in drawing working as a draftsman for a local architect, later reflecting; “You can’t slum over detail in architecture”. This grounding in drawing served him throughout his working life.

Dobell moved to Sydney in 1924, seeking work as a commercial illustrator, and he found his way to Julian Ashton’s art school. His next break was to win the Society of Artists' Travelling Scholarship in 1929, which enabled him to attend the Slade School in England. Travel abroad allowed him to take in the influences of European masters.

When Dobell returned he became an official war artist for a time, despite the complaints of military authorities who were unconvinced by his highly original painting style. His challenge to taste was echoed through his controversial win of the Archibald Prize in 1943, for his portrait of his artist friend, Joshua Smith. However, rather than break him, the win threw this shy man into the public eye and he became one of Australia’s best known and loved artists.

Dobell was a very prolific artist and it is thought that the small work in Lismore Regional Gallery's collection was probably sketched as a small gift to thank a friend.

Gender Male
Country of Birth AUSTRALIA
Date of Death 1976