Press Centre

Media Release
28 July 2003

Tribute to Sir William Dargie

The online life story and works of Sir William Dargie, who painted Australia's official painting of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth 11 at Buckingham Palace in December 1954, will provide a lasting tribute to one of Australia's most influential painters, who passed away in Melbourne on Saturday morning, 26 July 2003.

Sir William Dargie's official portrait of the Queen hangs in Parliament House, Canberra. Many reproductions of the painting were spread throughout Australia into council chambers, schools, government and company offices. In 1956 he also painted H.R.H Duke of Edinburgh.

Ron Smith, Managing Director of the Victorian based internet and communications company Pty Ltd, which has created the project said, "The Dargie Collection on the website was the first publication of extensive information of the major contribution of Sir William Dargie to Australian art."

The Albert Namatjira Connection
Mr Smith said, "the death of Sir Willian Dargie came on the eve of the anniversary of his good friend Albert Namatjira, Australia's first recognised aboriginal painter."

In 1956 Sir William Dargie's portrait of Albert Namatjira won the Archibald Prize.

Collection: Queensland Art Gallery

"Born on 4 June 1912 at Footscray in the west of Melbourne and spending his early childhood in Erica, a timber town near Walhalla in Gippsland, Sir William Dargie was Australia's most famous portrait painter winning the Archibald Prize a record eight times."

Australia's War Artist
"As a youth he met other famous Australian painters such as Streeton and Roberts."

"From 1946 to 1953 he was the Head of the Victorian Art School at the National Gallery."

"In 1941 he enlisted in World War 2 and became Australia's official war artist contributing hundreds of drawings and paintings to Australia's War Museum.

In 1942, while digging a trench in Tobruk at the age of twenty-nine, Dargie was informed he had won his first Archibald Prize with a portrait of Sir James Elder K.B.E.

"In 1942 Dargie won his second Archibald Prize with the dramatic portrait of Corporal Jim Gordon VC, the first Australian awarded the Victorian Cross for gallantry on the field of battle in Syria."

Mr Smith said that Sir William Dargie's life story and collection of Archibald Prize winning paintings on In the Artist's Footsteps will provide educational institutions and art lovers access to details and works of one of Australia's most important artists.

Media Enquiries:
Ron Smith (03) 9818 5700 Mobile 0417 329 201

Left: Arthur Streeton - Above Us The Great Grave Sky, 1890
Collection: National Gallery of Australia, Canberra.

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