The birth of the Southern Cross
24 Jul 1920 - 24 Apr 1999
Boyd's initial lessons in etching were with celebrated printmaker Jessie Trail at her Melbourne studio in the 1930s. However, it was not until his move to London in 1959 that he became absorbed with the expressive possibilities of printmaking, recognising this medium as indivisible from his work as a whole:
"I think it's a very good idea to be able to turn to a number of different techniques ... A new medium offers the artist a variety of keys; it allows him to re-state and sum-up without repeating himself."
- Arthur Boyd 1972
His first dry-point prints, including 'The birth of the Southern Cross' 1962-63, were made using a Stanley knife, scoring soft copper plates to create deep, richly-textured, etched lines, often overlaid with subtle areas of aquatint. Themes and images which were the mainstream of his paintings between 1941 and 1944 are reworked in etchings and lithographs made during 1962-63 and 1968-69.
These led to the publication of print sets where Boyd collaborated with historian T.S.R. Boase and poet Peter Porter over the ensuing two decades, exploring subjects which included 'St Francis of Assisi' 1964-65, 'Lysistrata' 1970, and 'Jonah' 1972-73, confirming his continuing passion for the ideas and literature of Europe.
Australian Art Department, AGNSW, 2000
drypoint on paper
25.3 x 30.3 cm platemark; 39.6 x 41.0 cm sheet
Signature & date
Signed l.r., pencil "Arthur Boyd". Not dated.
Anonymous gift 1993
Not on display
Shown in 2 exhibitions
Arthur Boyd retrospective (1993-1994):
- Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney 15 Dec 1993–06 Mar 1994
- National Gallery of Victoria [St Kilda Road], Melbourne 30 Mar 1994–23 May 1994
- Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Hobart 09 Jun 1994–21 Aug 1994
- Art Gallery of Western Australia, Australia 22 Sep 1994–20 Nov 1994
Australian icons: twenty artists from the collection, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 04 Aug 2000–03 Dec 2000