William Dobell was born in Newcastle, Australia in 1899, and after showing early artistic promise, won a travelling scholarship and studied at the Slade in London. He travelled around Europe for several years before returning to Australia, where he was soon much in demand as a portrait painter. He won Australia's prestigious Archibald Prize for portraiture on three occasions, including the controversial Portrait of an Artist in 1943; two
sore losers unsuccessful entrants challenged the result in court, claiming that the painting was a caricature, not a portrait. The judge found in Dobell's favour.
Dobell's portraits are vibrant and engaging, and varied in style. Fellow artist James Gleeson noted: "One of the astonishing things about Dobell's portraiture is his ability to adjust his style to the nature of the personality he is portraying ... If the character of his sitter is broad and generous, he paints broadly and generously. If the character is contained and inward looking, he uses brushstrokes that convey this fact." He also painted landscapes and other subjects.
Dobell was knighted in 1966, and died in 1970. He remains one of Australia's best regarded and most loved artists.
A dedicated fan has compiled a terrific William Dobell Pinterest page here. Meanwhile, here is a small selection to get you started.