John Shirlow was one of the first artists to make a career in Australia based on etching, and influenced many of his contemporaries, including Lionel Lindsay, to etch. He taught
himself from PG Hamerton’s book Etching and etchers (1868) after seeing prints by James McNeill Whistler, Seymour Hayden
and Charles Meryon in the National Gallery of Victoria, proceeding to construct his own etching tools and press to make his first
etching in 1895.
Shirlow worked from life, drawing directly on the plate, and his principal subjects included landscapes, architecture and street scenes, predominantly of Melbourne, although he did publish a portfolio of six etchings, The Sydney set, in 1917. Shirlow was an
active and senior figure in the Melbourne art world, promoting etching assiduously through teaching, writing and lectures.
He was a foundation member of the Australian Painter-Etchers’ Society, serving as its first Vice-President and exhibiting seventeen etchings in its inaugural exhibition in 1921.
from Anne Ryan, 'Australian etchings and engravings 1880s–1930s from the Gallery's collection', AGNSW, Sydney 2007
The slum, Bullen Lane, in the Chinese Quarter
etching, printed in black ink with plate tone on ivory laid paper
29.9 x 9.2 cm platemark; 34.8 x 14 cm sheet
Signature & date
Signed and dated in plate to print l.r. corner, pencil "J SHIRLOW 1914".
Signed l.r. corner, pencil "John Shirlow".
Not on display
Shown in 1 exhibition
British Empire Exhibition (1924), Empire Stadium, Wembley, 23 Apr 1924–Oct 1925
Referenced in 2 publications
Sydney Ure Smith, Etchings by John Shirlow, Sydney, 1917, (illus.). plate no. IV; titled 'The slum'
Anne Ryan, Australian etchings and engravings 1880s–1930s from the Gallery's collection, Sydney, 2007, 16, 16 (colour illus.). cat.no.19