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Australian art

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Self portrait



Arthur Boyd

Australia, England

24 Jul 1920 - 24 Apr 1999


Boyd's initial lessons in etching were with celebrated printmaker Jessie Trail at her Melbourne studio in the 1930s. However, it was not until his move to London in 1959 that he became absorbed with the expressive possibilities of printmaking, recognising this medium as indivisible from his work as a whole:
"I think it's a very good idea to be able to turn to a number of different techniques ... A new medium offers the artist a variety of keys; it allows him to re-state and sum-up without repeating himself."
- Arthur Boyd 1972

His first dry-point prints, including 'The birth of the Southern Cross' 1962-63, were made using a Stanley knife, scoring soft copper plates to create deep, richly-textured, etched lines, often overlaid with subtle areas of aquatint. Themes and images which were the mainstream of his paintings between 1941 and 1944 are reworked in etchings and lithographs made during 1962-63 and 1968-69.

These led to the publication of print sets where Boyd collaborated with historian T.S.R. Boase and poet Peter Porter over the ensuing two decades, exploring subjects which included 'St Francis of Assisi' 1964-65, 'Lysistrata' 1970, and 'Jonah' 1972-73, confirming his continuing passion for the ideas and literature of Europe.

Australian Art Department, AGNSW, 2000


Other Title

Etching no. 31



Media category


Materials used

etching, printed in black ink on white wove paper




30.1 x 25.0 cm platemark; 47.4 x 39.5 cm sheet

Signature & date

Signed l.r., pencil "Arthur Boyd". Not dated.


Purchased 1963


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Arthur Boyd

Artist profile

Works in the collection


Shown in 5 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 9 publications


Art Gallery of New South Wales, 1963 Acquisitions, Sydney, 1963, 36-7. 54

Clune Galleries, Arthur Boyd: Recent paintings and etchings, Sydney, 1963. 31; titled 'Etching'

Mervyn Horton (Editor), Art and Australia [series 5, vol. 1, no. 4], Sydney, Feb 1964-Apr 1964, 234 (illus.).

Hendrik Kolenberg and Anne Ryan, Australian prints from the Gallery's collection, Sydney, 1998, 102 (illus.), 103. 86

Imre von Maltzahn., Arthur Boyd etchings and lithographs, 'Introduction', London, 1971, (illus.). 32; no edition number; not paginated

Barry Pearce, Australian painters of the twentieth century, 'Arthur Boyd', pg. 148-159, Sydney, 2000, 152 (illus.), 153.

Barry Pearce, Look, 'The legacy in Sydney Arthur Boyd', pg. 18-20, Melbourne, Jul 1999, 20.

Barry Pearce, Arthur Boyd retrospective, Sydney, 1993, 8 (illus.). 168

Franz Philipp, Arthur Boyd, London, 1967, 113 (illus.), 266. 11.32; plate no. 116; not paginated