William Dobell

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Sir William Dobell, OBE (24 September 1899 – 13 May 1970) was an Australian artist (sculptor and painter).The electoral Division of Dobell is named after him.


William Dobell was born in Cooks Hill, a working class neighbourhood of Newcastle, New South Wales in Australia. His father was a builder and there were six children.

Dobell's artistic talents were evident early. In 1916, he was apprenticed to Newcastle architect, Wallace L. Porter and in 1924 he moved to Sydney as a draftsman. In 1925, he enrolled in evening art classes at Julian Ashton's School and was influenced by George Lambert.

In 1929, Dobell was awarded the Society of Artists' Travelling Scholarship and travelled to England to the Slade School where he studied under Wilson Steer, Henry Tonks and William Orpen. In 1930, he won first prize for figure painting at Slade and also travelled to Poland. In 1931 he moved on to Belgium and Paris, and after 10 years in Europe returned to Australia - taking with him a new Expressionist style of painting as opposed to his earlier naturalistic approach.

In 1939, he began as a part-time teacher at East Sydney Technical College. After the breakout of war, he was drafted into the Civil Construction Corps of the Allied Works Council in 1941 as a camouflage painter; he later became an unofficial war artist. In 1944, he had his first solo exhibition including public collection loans at the inauguration of the David Jones Art Gallery, Sydney.

In 1949, he visited New Guinea...
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