Harold Byrne ( 1899 - 1966)

Printmaker, illustrator, and teacher. An exhibition of his work was held at the Industrial Arts Society’s Gallery in Sydney in November 1937. The paintings and drawings in the exhibition demonstrated his preference for figure studies, featured in the exhibition were six aquatints of ballerinas, inspired by the Russian Ballet’s Australian tours in the 1930s. Byrne’s fascination with capturing the fragmentary movements of ballerinas was reflected in the Fragonard Press publication, The Spirit of the Ballet (1937). The book contained ten illustrations by the artist that were printed using copper plates, etched from sketches and notes Byrne had made whilst watching the performances of Col. De Basil’s Monte Carlo Russian Ballet, which toured Australia in 1936-37. Released in a limited edition of 30 copies, the book was signed by Byrne and the author of the foreword, Leon Woizikowsky, who was the ballet master of the aforementioned production. A folio of six etchings by Byrne, similarly depicting the Russian Ballet, was subsequently published through Aldoph Albers in 1940.

Harold Byrne passed away in 1966. His art is represented in Australian collections including the Baillieu Library Print Collection of the University of Melbourne and the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra.

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