Sir William Dargie
MR ESSINGTON LEWIS,
This work was awarded the Archibald Prize for 1952.
It is illustrated,
Plate 6 in 'Dargie: 50 Years of Portraits', 1985; in "Let's
Face It' by Peter Ross, 1999 and in 'The Archibald Prize' by Anna
Waldmann Art and Australia Summer 1982 edition.
of Essington Lewis was one of 83 selected works from a total of 241 entries
submitted for the Archibald Prize.
Peter Ross in 'Let's Face It' noted that 'Essington Lewis, subject of Dargie's seventh winning portrait, was chairman of Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, whose directors had commissioned the work.'
The day after the
exhibition opened it was reported that some thirty students had protested
against the judges' decision at the Gallery. According to the Sydney
Morning Herald 25 January 1953,
From 4 to 16 February
1953, a show of rejected works, organized by the St. John Ambulance Brigade
and opened by the Minister of Education, Mr Heffron, took place at the
Department of Education Galleries in Bridge Street.
It was reported in
the Sun and the Sydney Morning Herald of 5 January 1953
Peter Ross further
Anna Waldmann in
her 'Archibald Prize' article in 1982 noted,
Deborah Hart in her
major work on John Olsen, published in 1991, noted John Olsen's recollection
of the event:
John Olsen was at the forefront of the Anti-Archibald demonstration on 24 January 1953, when a group of students (variously estimated as twenty or 'about forty') marched on the gallery. On that day, the Sun reported "Students Brawl at Gallery and a 'violent clash' between students and attendants; one student was taken away for questioning and later released."
The placards held by the students caused amusement among spectators with slogans such as, 'Archibald Decisions Death to Art' and 'Don't Hang Dargie - Hang the Trustees.' The following Monday, the Sydney Morning Herald reported: "Only one, John Olsen revealed his name.
Mr Olsen said
Dargie, was said to have been aggrieved by the whole event. 'Some bloody journalist spread the word around that I was a very astute businessman and I'd promoted the protest myself for the publicity.'
Essington Lewis was born on 13 January 1881 at Burra Burra, South Australia. He was an industrialist and Director, General Munitions and Aircraft Production, 1941. His factories made grenades, land-mines, ammunition of all types, .303 rifles, machine and sub-machine guns, including the Owen gun and several types of heavy guns. They also made sophisticated optical aids, tanks and torpedoes.
He was BHP Chief
Executive 1921-1950; Chairman 1950-1952; and Deputy-Chairman 1952-1961.
His life is outlined by Geoffrey Blainey in his work 'The Steel Master',
published in 1971, and in a comprehensive five page entry in the 'Australian
Dictionary of Biography.'
Blainey, described the young Essington Lewis as being 178cm tall, broad shouldered and handsome. Fair-haired, he was dubbed 'Snowy' by the sporting press, and to his friends he was 'Essie'.
He died on 2 October 1961, at 'Landscape', his 1420 ha property at Tallarook, Victoria. He was cremated after a funeral service held at St. John's Church, Toorak.
Further references to Essington Lewis are '100 Famous Australian Lives' and the 1959 edition of 'Who's Who in Australia'.
Left: Arthur Streeton
- Above Us The Great Grave Sky, 1890