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William Dobell

Australia, England

24 Sep 1899 - 13 May 1970


Honing a thing down until you can still get through with economy, that’s power. Learn your technique thoroughly, immerse yourself in it, and then just throw it all out the window and express what you feel – and it will come through that you are a technician.

William Dobell, 1970

William Dobell made some of his finest life studies while attending the Slade School of Fine Art in London from 1929 to 1930, which emphasised a traditional approach and the importance of a grounding in drawing from the life model, followed by painting. Revealing his early mastery of the figure, Dobell’s 'Nude' of 1931 is a work of infinite grace and sensuousness.




Media category


Materials used

oil on canvas on wood


89.5 x 69.2 cm board; 105.5 x 84.5 x 6.0 cm frame

Signature & date

Signed l.l. corner, pale brown oil "William Dobell". Not dated.


Purchased 1942


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

William Dobell

Works in the collection


Shown in 19 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 14 publications


William Dobell', William Dobell: portraits in context, 'Portraits in context: selected early works, pg. 21-25, Kent Town, 2003, 22, 38 (colour illus.), back cover (colour illus.).

Hendrik Kolenberg, William Dobell - the painter's progress, 'Early figure studies', pg. 23-31, Sydney, 1997, 24, 30 (colour illus.), 31, 144. 3a

Hal Missingham, Contemporary Australian painting, 'Introduction', pg. 5-6, Auckland, 1957, inside front cover (illus.), 9. 9; plate no. 1

Margaret Olley and Jeffrey Smart, Favourites: Margaret Olley and Jeffrey Smart selections, Sydney, 2002. NOTE: No catalogue numbers; Margaret Olley selection.

Margaret Olley and Barry Humphries, Favourites: Margaret Olley and Barry Humphries choose from public and private collections, Sydney, 2000. Catalogue entry appears in inserted list to printed catalogue

Barry Pearce, Australian painters of the twentieth century, 'William Dobell', pg. 76-87, Sydney, 2000, 78 (colour illus.).

Bernard Smith, 100 years of Australian painting, 'Foreword', pg. 2-4, Sydney, 1948, 10. 58

The Journalist's Club, Art Exhibition (1963), Sydney, 1963. 21

Laurence Thomas, Twelve Australian artists, 'Introduction', pg. 6-10, London, 1953, 12. 4

Kenneth Wilkinson (Editor), Art in Australia [series 3, no. 77], Sydney, Nov 1939, 10 (illus.).

Ross Woodrow, William Dobell: hard drawing, Newcastle, 2007, 36, 40 (colour illus.), 68.

Editor Unknown (Editor), Australian National Journal, Spring 1939, 36 (illus.).

Author Unknown, William Dobell, 1960. plate no. 2, 2

Editor Unknown (Editor), Australian National Journal, 1942, 60 (illus.).