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An image of Henry Lawson by John Longstaff

John Longstaff

(Australia 1862 – 01 Oct 1941)

Henry Lawson
Media category
Materials used
oil on canvas

91.5 x 72.0 cm stretcher; 110.0 x 89.7 x 6.5 cm frame

Signature & date
Signed c.r. on shoulder, red oil "J Longstaff". Dated u.r., brown oil ".../ 1900".
Purchased 1901
Accession number
19th c Australian art
Further information

By the 1890s, Henry Lawson had established his reputation as a short story writer and poet with 'The drover’s wife' and 'Up the country'. His writing in The Bulletin helped create the image of the Australian bushman as the epitome of egalitarian and national ideals.

This portrait of Lawson was commissioned in 1900 by JF Archibald, editor of The Bulletin. It was painted in Melbourne shortly before Lawson’s departure for England. Working rapidly, Longstaff captured the poet’s characteristic expression. The finished portrait delighted Archibald and prompted him to establish the Archibald Prize, the non-acquisitive annual portraiture prize first awarded in 1921.

Bibliography (22)

John McDonald, Art of Australia. Vol 1: Exploration to Federation, ‘Individual and national feeling’, pg. 545-610, Sydney, 2008, 589, 590 (colour illus.).

Jill Sykes (Editor), Look, Newtown, Oct 2004, 47 (colour illus.).

K J Mason, Experience of Nationhood: modern Australia since 1901, Roseville, 2002, 7 (illus.).

Prue Joske, Debonair Jack, 'Portraits 1895-1901', pg.70-95, South Yarra, 1994, 86-91, 89 (illus.), 110-111, 148, 176.

Bernard William Smith and Terry Smith, Australian painting 1788-1990, 'Exodus 1881-1919', pg. 126-166, South Melbourne, 1991, 139 (illus.). plate no. 81

Terry Smith, Australian cultural history, 'Populism and Privilege in Australian Painting', pg. 190-210, Cambridge, 1988, 205 (illus.). plate no. 5

Edmund Capon and Ursula Prunster, Face to face: Australian portraits, Sydney, 1986, (illus.). 12

Peter Haynes (Compilator), Famous people: a selective who's who from works in the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 1981, 9 (illus.).

William Splatt and Barbara Burton, 100 masterpieces of Australian painting, Adelaide, 1973, 96, 97 (colour illus.). plate no. 45

Famous Australian artists', The Adelaide Festival of Arts 1964: Souvenir Catalogue of special exhibitions at the National Gallery of South Australia, 'Famous Australians, Adelaide, 1964. cat. no. 21

Art Gallery of New South Wales, A selection of eighty-two reproductions mainly from the Australian collection and including examples from the British, French and Dutch [Art Gallery of New South Wales]., Sydney, 1959, (illus.). plate no. 15

Bernard William Smith, A catalogue of Australian oil paintings in the National Art Gallery of New South Wales 1875-1952, Sydney, 1953, 129.

Hal Missingham, A retrospective exhibition of Australian painting, Sydney, 1953. 52

Nina Murdoch, Portrait in Youth of Sir John Longstaff (1861-1941), North Ryde, 1948, 132 (illus.), 179-182.

Bernard Smith, 100 years of Australian painting, 'Foreword', pg. 2-4, Sydney, 1948, 6. 17

Editor Unknown (Editor), The Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney, 11 Oct 1941.

Editor Unknown (Editor), The Mercury, 'Loan pictures exhibition: three artists: Sir John Longstaff', pg. 6, Hobart, 19 Aug 1935, 6.

A.G. Stephens, Art in Australia [series 3, no. 2], 'Henry Lawson', Sydney, Nov 1922, (colour illus.).

Lionel Lindsay, Art in Australia [vol. 1, no. 4], '25 Years of Australian Art', Sydney, 1918.

Bertram Stevens, Art in Australia [vol. 1, no. 2], 'John Longstaff', Sydney, 1917.

Julian Ashton., Daily telegraph, ‘National Art Gallery: The Australian Court’, Sydney, 27 Sep 1905, unknown.

National Art Gallery of New South Wales, Catalogue of the National Art Gallery of New South Wales 1899, Sydney, 1899. 297L

Exhibition history (4)

Commonwealth Exhibition of Australian Art (1901), Vickery's Chambers, Sydney, Jan 1901 -

100 years of Australian painting (1948), Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 19 Apr 1948–17 May 1948

A retrospective exhibition of Australian painting, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 25 Sep 1953–25 Oct 1953

Famous Australians by famous Australian artists, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, 07 Mar 1964–21 Mar 1964