24 Sep 1899 - 13 May 1970
This self portrait was painted three years after William Dobell arrived in London as recipient of the 1929 New South Wales Society of Artists Travelling Art Scholarship. Prior to painting this work, Dobell had visited Holland and studied
Rembrandt and Van Gogh in 1930, and travelled to Belgium to study the work of the Dutch masters in 1931.
'Self portrait' represents a daring act of self-exposure. Its significance lies in Dobell’s successful attempt to define the self without glamour, bravado or artifice. Though small in size, this portrait has an intensity of presence. It was produced during a period when the impoverished artist often painted on small scraps of panel or strawboard.
oil on wood panel
35.0 x 27.0 cm board; 54.0 x 46.0 x 6.0 cm frame
Signature & date
Signed and dated l.l. corner, white oil "WILLIAM DOBELL 1932".
Purchased with assistance from the Trustees of the Sir William Dobell Art Foundation 1985
© Courtesy Sir William Dobell Art Foundation
Shown in 8 exhibitions
Celebrity Choice - Sam Neill, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 08 Jan 1987–08 Feb 1987
Great gifts, great patrons, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 17 Aug 1994–19 Oct 1994
William Dobell the painter's progress (1997-1998):
- Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney 14 Feb 1997–27 Apr 1997
- Newcastle Art Gallery, Newcastle 07 May 1997–06 Jul 1997
- Museum of Modern Art at Heide, Melbourne 29 Jul 1997–21 Sep 1997
- Queensland Art Gallery, South Brisbane 25 Oct 1997–07 Dec 1997
- Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Hobart 08 Jan 1998–01 Mar 1998
Australian icons: twenty artists from the collection, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 04 Aug 2000–03 Dec 2000
Well connected: Dobell & company, Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery, Booragul, 12 May 2001–17 Jun 2001
To look within: Self portraits in Australia:
- University of Queensland Art Museum, Brisbane 16 Apr 2004–20 Jun 2004
- National Portrait Gallery [Old Parliament House], Canberra 09 Jul 2004–19 Sep 2004
Australian modern masterpieces from the Art Gallery of New South Wales:
Discovering Dobell, TarraWarra Museum of Art, Healesville, 27 May 2017–13 Aug 2017
Referenced in 19 publications
Helen Campbell, Australian art: in the Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'Out of Sydney: city and hinterlands', pg. 185-186, Sydney, 2000, 187 (colour illus.), 300.
Deborah Edwards, Look, 'William Dobell's Self-portrait', pg. 17, Heidelberg, Sep 1986, 17 (illus.).
Barry Pearce, Australian painters of the twentieth century, 'William Dobell', pg. 76-87, Sydney, 2000, 79 (colour illus.).
Peter Raissis, William Dobell - the painter's progress, 'London: life and portraits', pg. 32-72, Sydney, 1997, 24, 32, 33 (colour illus.), 144. cat.no. 4a
Andrew Sayers, To look within: self portraits in Australia, 'The artist's self-portrait in Australia', pg. 6-33, Brisbane, 2004, 6 (colour illus., detail), 24, 25 (colour illus.).
Judith White, Australian art collector, 'Yours sincerely: William Dobell', pg. 56-59, Sydney, Apr 2000-Jun 2000, 59.
Bill: the life of William Dobell, Cammeray, 2014, n.pag.. colour illustration in between pp 244-245
William Dobell: the painters progress, Sydney, 1997, cover (illus.).
State of the arts, 'William Dobell 1899-1970 The Painter's Progress', Sydney, Dec 1996-Mar 1997, 7 (illus.).
Australian Modern Painting Between the Wars 1914-1939, 'Sydney divided', pg. 138-165, Sydney, 1989, 150, 151 (colour illus.). plate no. 112
Celebrity choice: Sam Neill, Sydney, 1987, (colour illus.). catalogue entry; no catalogue entry; not paginated
Portrait of an artist: A biography of William Dobell, Melbourne, 1983, 64 (illus.).
The Art of William Dobell, Sydney, 1946, 18, 86 (illus.).
Look, Heidelberg, Feb 1997, 13 (colour illus.).
Face: Australian portraits 1880-1960, Canberra, 2010, 144 (colour illus.).
Look, Sydney, Apr 2007, 43 (colour illus.).
William Dobell: portraits in context, 'Image of contention', pg. 10-20, Kent Town, 2003, 2 (colour illus.), 14, 19, 22, 41 (colour illus.).
Well connected: Dobell and company, Lake Macquarie, 2001, front cover brochure insert (illus.), inside brochure insert (illus.). cat.no. 1; brochure insert not paginated
Outrage, Melbourne, Mar 1997, 3 (colour illus.), 36 (colour illus.), 37-39.