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Australian art

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Our immortals – Count Leo Tolstoi suspecting sensuality in the heavenly choir

(circa 1930)


Will Dyson


03 Sep 1880 - 21 Jan 1938


Will Dyson moved to England in 1909 and rapidly became established as a major illustrator and cartoonist, associating with many of the leading political, journalistic, literary and artistic figures of the day. He developed a formidable reputation for fearless and biting social and political commentary in his work, and well known for his wit and prowess as a speaker. Dyson's experiences observing Australian servicemen on the battlefields of France during the First World War and the premature death of his much-loved wife Ruby Lind (sister of Norman and Lionel Lindsay) precipitated a move back to Australia in 1925, but it was not permanent and eventually he returned to England, via America, in 1930.

Dyson first made drypoints in Australia from about 1928. He had earlier drawn cartoons on the subjects of 'Our Psychoanalysts', 'Finance' and various literary themes, but the drypoints developed these further with his characteristic insight and wit. By 1929 Dyson had made nineteen prints illustrating '… the pretensions and affectations of the intelligentsia … the extravagances of social life and the sterile gropings of impotent modernists in art, music and literature'. He took the drypoints with him on his return to England, exhibiting thirty nine of them in a sell-out show in New York in 1931, including both 'Dr Freud introduces a patient to her subconscious' and 'Count Leo Tolstoi suspecting sensuality in the heavenly choir'.

from Anne Ryan, 'Australian etchings and engravings 1880s–1930s from the Gallery's collection', AGNSW, Sydney 2007


Other Title

Count Leo Tolstoi suspecting sensuality in the heavenly choir

Place where the work was made

Melbourne Victoria Australia


(circa 1930)

Media category


Materials used

drypoint, printed in black ink with pale plate tone on cream laid paper




14.5 x 19.2 cm platemark; 23.2 x 30.4 cm sheet

Signature & date

Signed l.r., pencil "Will. Dyson.".


Purchased 1963


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Will Dyson

Works in the collection



Where the work was made

Referenced in 1 publication


Anne Ryan, Australian etchings and engravings 1880s–1930s from the Gallery's collection, Sydney, 2007, 66 (colour illus.). 97