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Australian art

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Lethe Wharf



Lionel Lindsay


18 Oct 1874 - 22 May 1961


Lionel Lindsay’s wood engravings are among the crowning achievements of his career, especially his sophisticated and stylishly designed images of animals and birds. He first experimented with the technique in 1910, buying tools from fellow artist John Mather, but did not begin to make them
in earnest until the 1920s, using discarded wood blocks from the Evening News. His most sustained influence was the work
of English wood engraver Thomas Bewick (1753–1828), both in technique and subject matter, and for technical guidance
he used a book by W J Linton, Wood engraving, a manual of instruction (1884), which urged ‘artist engravers’ to ‘cut a line
with meaning’.

Lindsay exhibited his new prints with the Society of Artists and published ‘A book of woodcuts’ in 1922, which was well
reviewed in the Times Literary Supplement, which further encouraged him. He published another book, Twenty one woodcuts in 1924, leading to his friendship with Harold Wright, an influential English art dealer who responded to them with enthusiasm, cementing his reputation as an significant and international talent. Lindsay’s wood engravings remain some of the most distinctive and memorable prints made in Australia in period prior to the Second World War.

from Anne Ryan, 'Australian etchings and engravings 1880s–1930s from the Gallery's collection', AGNSW, Sydney 2007




Media category


Materials used

wood engraving, printed in black ink on white tissue


From edition of 100


32.4 x 17 cm blockmark; 39.2 x 22.1 cm sheet

Signature & date

Signed l.l., pencil "Lionel Lindsay". Not dated.
Signed in block to print l.r., "LIONEL LINDSAY".


Purchased 1974


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Lionel Lindsay

Works in the collection


Shown in 5 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 4 publications


Christine Dixon and Dinah Dysart, Counterclaims: presenting Australian art 1938-1941, Sydney, 1986, 47. AAA33

Deborah Edwards, Stampede of the Lower Gods: Classical Mythology in Australian Art, Sydney, Sep 1989, 65. titled "The Lethe Wharf"

Grahame Kime., Heaven on earth: Visions of arcadia, 'Visions of Arcadia', Gymea, 2005. List of works; not paginated

Anne Ryan, Australian etchings and engravings 1880s–1930s from the Gallery's collection, Sydney, 2007, 68, 68 (colour illus.). 101