Sydney Long took up etching after he had already achieved considerable success as a painter in Australia, and gone to London to further his career, rather less successfully. In Sydney he had been a member and later President of the Society of Artists with Tom Roberts, Arthur Streeton and Julian Ashton and taught at Ashton’s Sydney Art School, becoming second in charge by 1907. His work at the turn of the century was decorative and symbolist, influenced by the English Aesthetic movement, and included paintings such as 'Pan' 1898, in the Gallery's collection. Long made the etching after the painting much later, harking back to an earlier period when his fame was at its height.
Long moved to London in 1910 and learnt etching from Frank Emanuel and Macolm Osborne at the Central School of Arts and Crafts, taking up the medium in earnest in 1918–19 and devoting much of his time to it for the next twelve years. He had a natural affinity for etching and his work was soon praised. He was elected an associate of the Royal Society of Painter-Etchers and Engravers in 1920 and was foundation honorary secretary of the Society of Graphic Art. The following year he visited Australia, and joined the Australian Painter-Etchers' Society.
Sydney Long taught many artists to etch in Sydney, including Donald Friend, Cedric Emanuel, Bim Hilder, Squire Morgan and Sheila McDonald. Conservative and opposed to modernist tendencies in art, he continued to etch until the collapse of the etching boom in the late 1930s. He was a Trustee of the AGNSW from 1939–49.
Many of Long's etchings were based on paintings, serving to publicise his work in Australia and in London, and also provide an additional source of income, which was a constant source of anxiety to him. He was particularly adept at using aquatint to achieve greater tonal range in his images and imbue them with a dreamy, romantic atmosphere, especially his landscapes.
from Anne Ryan, 'Australian etchings and engravings 1880s–1930s from the Gallery's collection', AGNSW, Sydney 2007
etching, aquatint, printed in dark brown ink on ivory wove paper
27.8 x 40.5 cm platemark; 32.7 x 52.5 cm sheet
Signature & date
Signed l.r., pencil "Sydney Long.". Not dated.
Anonymous gift 1973
Not on display
© Estate of Sydney Long. Courtesy Ophthalmic Research Institute of Australia
Where the work was made
Shown in 2 exhibitions
Fin de Siècle: posters prints drawings from the collection of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 15 Jan 1994–13 Mar 1994
Heaven on Earth: Visions of Arcadia, Hazelhurst Regional Gallery and Arts Centre, 01 Oct 2005–27 Nov 2005
Referenced in 7 publications
Roger Butler, Sydney Long: the spirit of the land, 'Sydney Long and Australian Printmaking', pg. 73-76, Canberra, 2012, 73, 165 (colour illus.). cat.no. 76; not AGNSW impression; titled 'Fantasy' and dated 1919.
Sydney Long, The etched work of Sydney Long, A.R.E.: a complete catalogue of his etchings, Sydney, 1928, (illus.). cat.no. 28; titled 'Fantasy'; dated 1917
Renée Free, Fin de Siècle, Sydney, Jan 1994.
Goulburn Regional Art Gallery, The etchings of Sydney Long: the Richard King Collection, Goulburn, 1990, (illus.). cat.no. 45; titled 'Fantasy'; dated 1919; edition 7/30
Grahame Kime., Heaven on earth: Visions of arcadia, 'Visions of Arcadia', Gymea, 2005. List of works; not paginated
Joanna Mendelssohn, The life and work of Sydney Long, Sydney, 1979, 134 (illus.), 250. cat.no. 17; titled 'Fantasy'; dated 1917; no details given for ANG impression
Anne Ryan, Australian etchings and engravings 1880s–1930s from the Gallery's collection, Sydney, 2007, 11 (colour illus.). cat.no. 11