William Dobell the famous Australian artist of the twentieth century, an outstanding master of portraiture. He also created many genre paintings and landscapes.
William Dobell achieved widespread public recognition early on, but his work has often been the subject of intense controversy in the peer and critical community. Nevertheless, the paintings of the brilliant master were awarded three times by the most prestigious art award in Australia the annual Archibald Prize for the best portrait.
Biography of William Dobell
He was the youngest of six children in the family of a simple bricklayer and became interested in drawing in elementary school. His parents did not have the means to pay for education. Therefore, William had to get a job as a draftsman for an architect.
For eight years, Dobell worked for a construction company to save money to study at the Sydney Art School. In 1924 he entered this prestigious university. William turned out to be a diligent student, and upon graduation he won the right to receive a scholarship from the Society of Australian Artists.
In October 1929, 30-year-old William Dobell sailed on a ship to England. Upon arrival in London, he applied to the Slade School of Fine Arts and was enrolled in the evening department. Under the guidance of professors Henry Tonks and Philip Wilson Star, the artist studied for a year. He received the first prize in figurative painting, after which he left his studies. In the British capital, William first tried his hand at the urban landscape genre.
Until the end of the 1930s, Dobell made a number of trips to European countries. He traveled to the Netherlands and Belgium, and also visited Poland and France. The artist made a living by making posters and advertisements, creating illustrations for English magazines and even occasionally acting in films as extras. During his nine years in Europe, Dobell gained neither money nor fame. In January 1939, he received a letter from his father, in which he asked his son to return home as soon as possible, foreseeing the imminent approach of death. William boarded the next ship and sailed to Australia, having managed to see his father alive a few days before his death.
Upon returning to his homeland, Dobell settled in Sydney and got a job at a technical college as an art teacher. And at the end of 1941 he was drafted into the army, where for three years he was engaged in the creation of camouflage camouflage at military airfields. During his service, he became friends with colleague Joshua Smith and painted his portrait in an original style with elements of the grotesque and caricature.
In 1943, William Dobell won the Archibald Prize for his painting Portrait of Joshua Smith. Two other participants in the competition filed a lawsuit against the winner, demanding that the controversial decision of the authoritative commission be annulled. For two years, the Supreme Court of New South Wales heard the case, which was widely covered in the press. William himself acted as a defender at the meetings and won the process.
A strong nervous shock caused serious health problems. Dobell fell ill with dermatitis and experienced a bout of severe depression. For a whole year he did not leave the house, stopped painting and did not communicate with anyone. Fortunately, his older sister Alice persuaded him to move to the small town of Vangi, where the artist gradually returned to normal life.
William continued painting, and the Archibald Prize scandal proved to be a powerful tool for the further development of the artist’s career. The master’s work was widely covered in the press. Since the mid-1940s, his work has been constantly exhibited at prestigious exhibitions. Dobell became a recognized master of the Australian fine arts, but lived very modestly and secluded.
The brilliant painter was a homosexual, had no family, no children, no close friends. He spent the rest of his life in a small estate in Vangi, which he inherited from his father. William Dobell died on May 13, 1970 at the age of 70 from a heart attack and was buried in the city cemetery of his native Newcastle.