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An image of Portrait of Alexandre Sarrés by David Strachan
Alternate image of Portrait of Alexandre Sarrés by David Strachan

David Strachan

(Australia, England 25 Jun 1919 – 23 Nov 1970)

Portrait of Alexandre Sarrés
Other titles:
Portrait of Sarres
Portrait of Sarrés
Place of origin
Media category
Materials used
oil on plywood

45.5 x 37.3 cm board (irreg.); 59.4 x 51.8 x 3.3 cm frame

Signature & date
Signed and dated u.r., brown oil "D. STRACHAN 55".
Bequest of Margaret Olley 2012
Accession number
© Estate of David Strachen
Not on display
Further information

Painted by David Strachan in France in 1955, the subject of this portrait is Alexandre Sarrés, also known as Maurice Brasseur or Mau, a Belgian engraver and illustrator for the journal Osmose cahiers littéraires, edited by Jean Cocteau. While in Paris, Strachan had developed an interest in deep colour etching, establishing the private printing house Stramur-Presse along with Dutchman Jacques Murray in 1951.

A member of the Sydney Charm School, which defied the progress of abstraction in Australian art during the 1960s, Strachan took inspiration from the quattrocento and the late romantic periods. Working within the traditional genres of still-life, landscape and portraiture, the artist instilled the ordinary with humility and sensitivity by means of uncomplicated compositions, sombre tones and an honest treatment of paint.

'Basically, the thing that I’m really striving for is to express the feeling I have about the subject, and sometimes I can put it down very quickly, and sometimes it takes me months and months of reorganisation of the shapes and colours and tones to get that feeling. When I’ve got that, that is as much as I can do'.
David Strachan, 1962

Strachan died prematurely at the age of 51 in car accident at Yass in November 1970. Despite his modest output, he was honoured posthumously with both a memorial (1973) and retrospective exhibition (1993).

Bibliography (4)

Lou Klepac (Editor), David Strachan, Sydney, 1993, (colour illus.), 126. titled 'Portrait of Sarrés'; 29

New South Wales Society of Artists, Society of Artists Exhibition of Drawings and Prints 1960, New South Wales, 1960. titled 'Portrait of Sarres'; 133; priced 40 guineas; not paginated

Philip Bacon Galleries (Compilator), David Strachan 1919-1970, 'Biographical notes', Brisbane, Oct 1989, (colour illus.). titled 'Portrait of Sarrés'; 22; priced $10,000

Daniel Thomas, David Strachan, 1919-1979, 'Catalogue', pg. 9, Sydney, 1973, 9, 22 (illus.). titled 'Portrait of Sarrés'; 22; plate no. 24

Exhibition history (4)

Society of Artists Spring Exhibition (1960), Farmer's Blaxland Gallery, Sydney, 25 Aug 1960–06 Sep 1960

David Strachan 1919 - 1970 (1973):

David Strachan 1919-1970 (1989), Philip Bacon Galleries, Brisbane, 28 Oct 1989–22 Nov 1989

David Strachan (1919-1970) Retrospective (1993):