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In line with decisions made by the National Cabinet as communicated by the NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian, the Art Gallery of New South Wales is currently closed but will reopen to the public on 1 June. The Gallery will be observing strict physical distancing and hygiene measures to protect the health of all visitors and staff and minimise the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus) in the State. More information




Australian art

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Head study of a bearded man

(circa 1895)


George James Coates

Australia, England

09 Aug 1869 - 27 Jul 1930


George Coates was a fine painter of portraits and figure compositions who studied in Melbourne at the National Gallery School and was awarded the school's travelling art scholarship. He left for Paris in 1897 with the painter David Davies (1864-1939). Coates was an official war artist in London in World War I and remained in England for much of his working life. He returned to Melbourne for a joint exhibition with his wife, the painter Dora Meeson (1869-1955), in 1921. The Australian War Memorial has an important collection of Coates’ work. He exhibited with the Victorian Artists Society in Melbourne, where he met J B Kilgour, a member of the Victorian Art Society and Cannibal Club in the 1890s and father of the artist J Noel Kilgour (1900-87), both whom owned this drawing.

The model is believed to have been a Russian musician in Melbourne in the 1890s. Lionel Lindsay also drew him, full length and in a cavalier's costume in Coate's studio in 1895.


Other Title

Head study, bearded man


(circa 1895)

Media category


Materials used

pencil, pen and sepia ink


25.2 x 19.5 cm sheet (irreg.)

Signature & date

Signed l.r., pencil "G Coates". Not dated.


Purchased 1962


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

George James Coates

Works in the collection


Shown in 4 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 5 publications


Art Gallery of New South Wales, 1962 Acquisitions, Sydney, 1963, 33. 44

Hendrik Kolenberg, Anne Ryan and Patricia James, 19th century Australian watercolours, drawing and pastels from the Gallery's collection, Sydney, 2005, 85 (colour illus.).

Hendrik Kolenberg, The portrait and the nude: Australian drawings from the collection, Sydney, 1990. 11

Hendrik Kolenberg, Look, 'Australian images from the past: whether rarely seen or familiar, these works move and delight us', pg. 24-27, Sydney, Apr 2005, 27.

Jill Sykes (Editor), Look, Sydney, Apr 2012, 41 (colour illus.).