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Australian art

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Sir Henry Parkes



Phil May

England, Australia

27 Apr 1864 - 05 Aug 1903


One of the best remembered of Australia's early politicians, Sir Henry Parkes (1815-96) was premier of New South Wales for the first of five occasions in 1872. He supported the causes of liberalism and anti-transportation, was party to ensuring free, secular and compulsory education in New South Wales and is known as the 'Father of Federation' for the key role he played in the Federation conventions of the early 1890s. He was not admired by everyone however – 'The bulletin' on 2 May 1896 described him as having '... the art of seeming great, yet no one could really remember, even at the zenith of his career, that he ever did anything in particular to deserve his reputation.'

excerpt from Hendrik Kolenberg, Anne Ryan and Patricia James, '19th century Australian watercolours, drawings & pastels in the Gallery's collection', Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 2005




Media category


Materials used

pencil, watercolour, black and white gouache, gum on grey-green paper


23.0 x 17.7 cm sheet

Signature & date

Signed l.r., pencil "PHIL MAY". Not dated.
Signed u.r., pencil ".../ .../ Phil May".


Purchased 1919


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Phil May

Works in the collection


Shown in 5 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 4 publications


Jane de Teliga, Australian images: Prints, drawings and watercolours from the collection, Sydney, 1979, 7.

Renée Free, Fin de Siècle, Sydney, Jan 1994. no catalogue numbers

Hendrik Kolenberg, 19th century Australian watercolours, drawing and pastels from the Gallery's collection, 'Introduction', pg. 6-16, Sydney, 2005, 15, 81 (colour illus.).

Lionel Lindsay, 150 years of Australian art, Sydney, 1938. 500