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William Dobell

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. 


 
Portrait of an Artist, 1943
 
Margaret Olley, winner of Archibald Prize, 1948
 
Dame Mary Gilmore, 1957
 
Anthony Quayle as Falstaff, 1951
 
Portait of a Boy
 
The Cypriot, 1940
 
Thelma Clune, 1946
 
Thelma Clune, 1970
 
Brian Penton, Esq, 1943
 
The Opera House, 1969
 
The Bird Watchers, 1953
 
A London Bridge
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