We acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the Country on which the Art Gallery of NSW stands.

🛈 Find out what you need to know before visiting


The man in black



Napier Waller


19 Jun 1893 – 30 Mar 1972

  • Details

    Media category
    Materials used
    colour linocut on cream wove paper
    30.6 x 17.6 cm blockmark; 37.2 x 23.8 cm sheet
    Signature & date

    Signed l.r., pencil "M. Napier Waller". Signed with monogram in block to print l.r., black ink "MNW". Not dated.

    Purchased 1971
    Not on display
    Accession number
    © Courtesy Trustees of the Waller Estate

    Reproduction requests

    Artist information
    Napier Waller

    Works in the collection


  • About

    Mervyn Napier Waller was born at Penshurst, in rural Victoria. He studied drawing under Frederick McCubbin and painting under Bernard Hall at the National Gallery School, Melbourne. In August 1915 he enlisted in the army. The following year he married artist Christian Yandell (Waller), and by the end of the year was engaged in active combat in France. He was badly injured in 1917, necessitating the amputation of his right arm; he had to learn to use his left hand for writing and drawing while convalescing in France and England; it is possible that he learnt linocutting at the same time. He returned to Australia in November 1917 and exhibited works he made while in service, both before and after his accident.

    It was in 1923 that he first exhibited linocuts which he began making after his return to Australia, most of them completed before 1930; he was one of the first Australian artists to make and exhibit them. 'The man in black' is a self portrait (showing both arms intact); Waller is standing in front of the mural he made for the Melbourne Public Library (completed in 1928).

    Hendrik Kolenberg and Anne Ryan, Australian prints from the Gallery's collection, AGNSW, 1998

  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 1 exhibition

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 5 publications

Other works by Napier Waller

See all 14 works