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Australian art

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Lake of swans



Vera Blackburn

Australia, England

23 May 1911 - 14 Aug 1991


Vera Blackburn took private art classes with Thea Proctor in 1931, who taught her how to make linocuts. She also studied for five years at the Adelaide Perry Art School in Sydney before leaving for England with her father in 1937. While in the UK she studied at the Westminster School of Art under Meninsky and Gertler among others, and was friends with a number of expatriate artists including Jean Bellette, Eric Wilson, John Passmore and William Dobell. She remained in England after marrying in London in 1939, when she ceased to make art.

"This linocut with its undulating line of swans was inspired by a passage in Tchaikovsky's music for 'Swan Lake' which the artist had recently seen. She had also been reading an Irish legend about the Children of Lir who were transformed into swans by an enchantment."
Roger Butler, 1979

© Australian Art Department, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 2006




Media category


Materials used

linocut, printed in black ink on thin ivory laid tissue


Unknown, approximately 10


30.2 x 24.4 cm blockmark; 35.2 x 29.9 cm sheet (irreg.)

Signature & date

Signed within block to print lower c., incised "VBB".
Signed and dated l.r., pencil "Vera Blackburn July 1935".


Purchased with funds provided by the Australian Prints, Drawings and Watercolours Benefactors' Fund 2006


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Vera Blackburn

Works in the collection


Shown in 2 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 4 publications


Roger Arthur Butler, Vera Blackburn, Victoria, 1979, (illus.). plate no. 12; not paginated

Helen Campbell, Colour, rhythm, design: wood & lino cuts of the 20s & 30s, 'Introduction', pg. 2, Sydney, 2010, 20 (colour illus.).

Nicholas Draffin, Australian woodcuts and linocuts of the 1920s and 1930s, South Melbourne, 1976, 13, 64 (illus.). Collection of National Trust of Australia

Josef Lebovic, Masterpieces of Australian printmaking, Sydney, 1987, 14, 15 (illus.). 13