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'Two sketches' or 'Head of a clergyman and head of a youth reading'



Phil May

England, Australia

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


Other Titles

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)



Media category


Materials used



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

Accession number


Artist information

Phil May

Works in the collection


Shown in 7 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 10 publications


19th century Australian watercolours, drawing and pastels from the Gallery's collection, Sydney, 2005, 78, 79 (colour illus.).

Australian drawings from the Gallery's collection, Sydney, 1997, 23 (illus.). 7

The portrait and the nude: Australian drawings from the collection, Sydney, 1990. 54

150 years of Australian art, Sydney, 1938. 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

James R Tyrrell, 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.

National Art Gallery of New South Wales, Catalogue of the National Art Gallery of New South Wales 1917, Sydney, 1917, 120. 33; titled 'Portrait Sketches'; Presented by Mr. Howard Hinton 1916.

Bulletin News Co., Catalogue of drawings by Phil May for 'The Bulletin', Sydney, 1903, 63. 466

National Art Gallery of New South Wales, Catalogue of the National Art Gallery of New South Wales 1921, Sydney, 1921, 143. 9; titled 'Sketches'; Presented by Mr. Howard Hinton 1915.

Howard Hinton memorial exhibition, Sydney, 1948, 4. 1