'Two sketches' or 'Head of a clergyman and head of a youth reading'
27 Apr 1864 - 05 Aug 1903
As with Livingston Hopkins, it was the inspired inducement of W H Traill of 'The Bulletin' that brought Phil May to Australia. In his brief time at 'The Bulletin' between 1886 and 1888, May quickly established himself as one of the finest cartoonists in the colony. In the 'Encyclopedia of Australian art', Alan and Susan McCulloch credit May as 'largely responsible for setting the high standard of draughtsmanship attained by the black-and-white artists of the Sydney 'Bulletin'.' James Tyrrell, in his book 'Old books, old friends, old Sydney' (1952), wrote that whenever Phil May met the Reverand J Brophy, a retired clergyman and the main subject of this drawing: 'he would get him to pose for a sketch. The old gentleman never seemed to mind posing for Phil, and he was needy enough to welcome with thanks and a blessing, the invariable five-shilling model's fee which Phil passed on to him.'
A J Daplyn (1844-1926), to whom Phil May dedicated this drawing, was the first art instructor at the Royal Art Society School, Sydney 1885-92. He encouraged his students to paint en plein air and wrote the influential book 'Landscape painting from nature in Australia' (1902). Among his best known pupils were Charles Conder (1868-1909) and Sydney Long (1871-1955).
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
Two pencil sketches
Head of a clergyman
Head of a clergyman (The Reverand J Brophy)
Two sketches / Head of a clergyman (The Reverand J Brophy)
28.9 x 21.9 cm sheet
Signature & date
Signed and dated u.r., pencil "PHIL MAY/ '87". Signed l.l., pencil ".../ .../ ... Phil May [underlined]/ aug 29/87".
Gift of Howard Hinton 1915
Not on display
Shown in 7 exhibitions
150 years of Australian art (1938), National Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 27 Jan 1938–25 Apr 1938
Howard Hinton memorial exhibition (1948), National Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 13 Apr 1948–30 Apr 1948
Some Australian drawings 1880-1980, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 16 May 1981–18 Jun 1981
The portrait and the nude: Australian drawings from the collection, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 18 Aug 1990–28 Oct 1990
Bohemians in the bush: the artists' camps of Mosman, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 06 Jun 1991–25 Aug 1991
Australian drawings from the Gallery's collection, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 13 Dec 1997–15 Mar 1998
19th century Australian watercolours, drawings & pastels, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 06 Apr 2005–24 Jul 2005
Referenced in 10 publications
Lionel Lindsay, 150 years of Australian art, Sydney, 1938. cat.no. 699
Lionel Lindsay., Art in Australia [series 3, no. 68], 'Drawing and drawings in Australia', Sydney, 16 Aug 1937, 56 (illus.). titled 'Study of old man', detail
Hendrik Kolenberg, Australian drawings from the Gallery's collection, Sydney, 1997, 23 (illus.). cat.no. 7
Hendrik Kolenberg, The portrait and the nude: Australian drawings from the collection, Sydney, 1990. cat.no. 54
Old books, old friends, old Sydney: the fascinating reminiscences of a Sydney bookseller, Sydney, 1952, between 36 and 37, 45. A photograph of Phil May and the Reverend J Brophy in Sydney in 1886 is reproduced.
Unknown, Howard Hinton memorial exhibition, Sydney, 1948, 4. cat.no. 1
Catalogue of drawings by Phil May for 'The Bulletin', Sydney, 1903, 63. cat.no. 466
Catalogue of the National Art Gallery of New South Wales 1921, Sydney, 1921, 143. cat.no. 9; titled 'Sketches'; Presented by Mr. Howard Hinton 1915.
Catalogue of the National Art Gallery of New South Wales 1917, Sydney, 1917, 120. cat.no. 33; titled 'Portrait Sketches'; Presented by Mr. Howard Hinton 1916.
Hendrik Kolenberg, Anne Ryan and Unknown, 19th century Australian watercolours, drawing and pastels from the Gallery's collection, Sydney, 2005, 78, 79 (colour illus.).