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Australian art

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Songs of the vagabond scholars



Donald Friend


06 Feb 1915 - 16 Aug 1989

Randolph Stow

John Scott


Donald Friend was born in Sydney. Friend studied etching with Sydney Long while still a schoolboy in 1930-31, and later studied under Datillo Rubbo in 1934. In 1936 he travelled to England where he studied at the Westminster School of Art under Bernard Meninsky and Mark Gertler. He spent his life travelling and working in England, Europe, Africa, Sri Lanka and Bali with periods in Australia and is best known as painter and draughtsman.

An etching he made while studying with Long, 'Old steps, Hunters Hill' c1931, is in the Gallery's collection, as is the drawing for it. He made lithographs at Gallery A, Melbourne with Janet Dawson for the series commissioned by the National Gallery of Victoria in 1965. 'Songs of the vagabond scholars' was instigated by Lou Klepac of the Beagle Press, Sydney in 1981. Friend produced a further four lithographs on the four seasons in 1982, and twenty seven etchings printed by James Whitington of Whaling Road Studio, Sydney in 1987.

'Songs of the vagabond scholars' is a book of 'lyrics by anonymous wanderers who sheltered in courts and monasteries at the time of the Black Death', and contains fourteen lithographs by Donald Friend. The poems, translated by Randolph Stow, are from the 'Carmina Burana', a medieval text discovered in Munich in the early 19th century, parts of the 'Confessio' by the Archpoet (died c.1165) and the poem 'De ramis cadunt folia', written some time before 1200, for which the lithograph 'Winter song' is the illustration.

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


Place where the work was made




Media categories

Book , Print

Materials used

bound artist's book; 30 leaves, 14 original lithographs




45.7 x 32.5 cm leaf; 46.8 x 34.2 x 2.2 cm book closed; 46.8 x 69.0 cm book open :

a - page 1:"SONGS/ OF THE/ VAGABOND SCHOLARS", top c., typeset in black ink page 2: BLANK, 45.7 x 32.5 cm, leaf

Signature & date

Signed brown ink page 60, brown ink "Donald Friend". Not dated.


Gift of Lou Klepac 1989


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Donald Friend

Artist profile

Works in the collection


Artist information

Randolph Stow

Works in the collection


Artist information

John Scott

Works in the collection



Where the work was made

Referenced in 2 publications


Hendrik Kolenberg and Anne Ryan, Australian prints from the Gallery's collection, Sydney, 1998, 128 (illus.), 129 (illus.). 109; the image depicted on pg. 128 is the cover of the artist's book; the image depicted on pg. 129 is plate no. 13, 'Winter song'

Hendrik Kolenberg, Donald Friend Retrospective 1915-1989, 'Donald Friend as printmaker', pg. 129-131, Sydney, 1990, 130 (illus.), 131. 112c; the image depicted is 'I Am the Abbot of Cockaigne'