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Theo Scharf

(Australia, Germany 1899 – 23 Jun 1987)

Theatre (Theater)
Media category
Materials used
etching and drypoint

11.8 x 15.6 cm platemark; 32.2 x 23.5 cm sheet

Signature & date
Signed l.r., pencil "Theo Scharf". Not dated.
Purchased 1980
Accession number
Not on display
Further information

Theo Scharf was born in Melbourne to German parents. He held an exhibition at the Besant Lodge-room in Melbourne, in 1914, while still in his teens and contributed drawings to the Bulletin and other publications. He was the subject of Violet Teague's painting 'Boy with a palette (portrait of Theo Scharf)' 1911, in the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; it is thought she may have taught him printmaking while still in Melbourne. At the outbreak of the First World War he was taken to Germany by his mother, eventually settling in Munich; he returned to Australia once, to teach tertiary classes in Melbourne and art at Box Hill between 1950 and 1956. Scharf became a well-known illustrator and cartoonist, as well as an etcher and painter in Germany, and was a war artist during the Second World War. As a young man, his work attracted the attention of a number of prominent Australian artists including Frederick McCubbin and Blamire Young; Dame Nellie Melba brought a number of his etchings to Australia in the 1920s, two of which 'Restaurant II' and 'Night in a city theatre' were illustrated in the December 1924 issue of 'Art in Australia'.

'Night in a city' comprises twenty prints, released in a portfolio. Some are inscribed in English and others in German. The National Gallery of Victoria has two sets, one a gift of Sir Frederick Mann in 1943, and another set in a grey-green coloured cloth folio.

Hendrik Kolenberg and Anne Ryan, 'Australian prints from the Gallery's collection', AGNSW, 1998

Bibliography (3)

Nicholas Draffin, Prints in Germany 1880-1940, Sydney South, 1989, 7.

Renée Free, Modernism 1900-1950: prints and drawings from the collection, Sydney, 1994.

Anne Ryan, Look, 'Night in a city: satirical views from 1923, underclass to upper class', pg. 14-15, Newtown, Apr 2006, 15 (colour illus.).

Exhibition history (4)

The edge of the world, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 05 Jul 1985–25 Aug 1985

Prints in Germany 1880-1940, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 28 Oct 1989–07 Jan 1990

Modernism 1900-1950: prints and drawings from the collection, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 23 Jul 1994–25 Sep 1994

Australian Collection Focus: Theo Scharf 'Night in a city', Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 05 Apr 2006–14 May 2006