Skip to content


An image of The river (Yarra) from just below Government House by John Shirlow

John Shirlow

(Australia 13 Dec 1869 – 1936)

The river (Yarra) from just below Government House
Other titles:
The river
Media category
Materials used
etching, printed in dark brown ink with plate tone on ivory laid paper

11.3 x 25.9 cm platemark; 16.6 x 31.5 cm sheet

Signature & date
Signed l.r., pencil "John Shirlow". Signed and dated within plate to print l.r., "SHIRLOW/ 1902".
Purchased 1916
Accession number
Not on display
Further information

John Shirlow was born in Sunbury, Victoria and studied at the National Gallery School 1891-94 and with Arthur Louriero in Melbourne. Shirlow pioneered etching in Australia, inspired by the collection of prints selected and purchased for the National Gallery of Victoria by the English artist Hubert Herkomer in 1891-92, particularly the etchings of James McNeill Whistler and Charles Meryon. He made his own etching tools, grounds and inks and built a wooden press out of red-gum. In turn Shirlow influenced Lionel Lindsay who wrote: 'I owe to Shirlow my first impetus to etch, for it was on seeing his little plate 'The saw mill' exhibited at the Victorian Artists Society that my student's mind was struck by the fact that etchings could actually be made in Australia'. (L Lindsay, 'Etching in Australia', pg. 296). Initially Shirlow worked as a lithographic printer. He also taught etching at the Working Men's College (now RMIT) in 1929 and was later art master at Scotch College, Melbourne. He was a trustee member of the Felton Bequest at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne.

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

Bibliography (5)

Sasha Grishin, Australian art: a history, 'Art of federation in print', pg. 186-195, Carlton, 2013, 188 (colour illus.), 548, 568. plate no. 19.2

Hendrik Kolenberg and Anne Ryan, Australian prints from the Gallery's collection, Sydney, 1998, 29 (illus.). 13

Lionel Lindsay, 150 years of Australian art, Sydney, 1938. 627 [Gallery No. 5]

Anne Ryan, Australian etchings and engravings 1880s–1930s from the Gallery's collection, Sydney, 2007, 17, 17 (colour illus.). 21

Sydney Ure Smith, Etchings by John Shirlow, Sydney, 1917, (illus.). plate no. II; titled 'The river'

Exhibition history (2)

British Empire Exhibition (1924), Empire Stadium, Wembley, 23 Apr 1924–Oct 1925

Australian prints from the Gallery's collection (1998-1999), Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 06 Nov 1998–07 Feb 1999