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Julian Rossi Ashton (1851 - 1942)
Ashton was born in England, the elder son of a wealthy American, Thomas Briggs Ashton and his wife Henrietta, daughter of Count Carlo Rossi, a Sardinian diplomat. Soon after his birth the family moved to Cornwall, where his father, an amateur painter, encouraged the artistic leanings of Julian and his brother George. About 1862 the Ashtons moved to Totnes on the River Dart, where Julian attended the local grammar school, but his father died and the family, now in financial straits, went to London. Julian had art lessons from an old friend of his father whose teaching he described as 'the most helpful I ever had'. At 15 he took a job in the civil engineering branch of the Great Eastern Railway and attended the West London School of Art at night. After three years he joined a firm of ironmongers as a draftsman, but soon left to become a successful illustrator for such journals as Chatterbox and Cassell's Magazine. In 1873 he spent a few months at the new Académie Julian in Paris, and subsequently had work accepted by the Royal Academy of Arts. Ashton emigrated to Melbourne in 1878 to work as an artist for the Illustrated Australian News. In 1881 he worked at the Australasian Sketcher and in 1883 moved to Sydney to work on the Picturesque Atlas of Australasia and the Bulletin. Ashton became an influential patron and supporter of Australian through his roles as trustee of the National Art Gallery of New South Wales and numerous associations that he belonged to. He was awarded the Society of Artists' medal for distinguished services to Australian art in 1924, appointed C.B.E. in 1930, and won the Sydney sesquicentennial prize for a water-colour in 1938.
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