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Observatory Hill from North Sydney


Sydney Ure Smith


09 Jan 1887 - 11 Oct 1949


Sydney Ure Smith - artist, publisher and tireless promoter of Australian art - was a key figure in the etching revival in Sydney, not only as a practitioner of etching but also through his publications on the subject, including his magazine 'Art in Australia'.

He made his first etching at the age of nineteen and was assisted in his efforts by fellow artists Eirene Mort and his good friend Lionel Lindsay. He bought Livingston Hopkins’ etching press to edition his work, eventually producing over 100 prints. Ure Smith was an active member of the Australian Painter-Etchers’ Society, exhibiting fifty-one etchings in their inaugural exhibition of 1921, and publishing a special edition of 'Art in Australia' to accompany the show. In 1925 he edited and published another special ‘Etching edition’ of the magazine, with an ambitious attempt to record a complete list of etchings published in Australia, with their date of issue and number of impressions.

Sydney Ure Smith had a keen interest in architecture, particularly ‘old Sydney’ - areas like the Rocks, Windsor, and central Sydney that still featured the colonial buildings and haphazard streets of the nineteenth century. Many of these areas were under threat of demolition as the growing city developed, and Ure Smith, with others including Julian Ashton and Lionel Lindsay, recorded the older quarters of the city and their colourful street life, in part for nostalgia but also to advocate for their preservation.


Media category


Materials used

etching, printed in black ink with pale plate tone on ivory wove paper


20.7 x 27.2 cm platemark; 25.0 x 30.7 cm sheet

Signature & date

Signed in plate to print l.l. "S.Ure S.". Not dated.


Purchased with funds provided by the Australian Prints, Drawings and Watercolours Benefactors' Fund 2016


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Sydney Ure Smith

Works in the collection


Referenced in 2 publications


Helen Campbell, Look, 'Sydney Ure Smith etchings 1914-1934', pg. 30-31, Sydney, Mar 2017-Apr 2017, 30-31.

Deutscher and Hackett important fine art, Aboriginal art: Sydney 2 December 2015, Melbourne, 2015, 33. Lot 15