Sydney Harbour


John Alexander Shirlow (1869 - 1936)

Superb etching of Sydney Harbour by this well known Australian etcher .

$A 1,250

In stock

S/N: PM-AA-1919-SHIR–222617
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Full Title:

Sydney Harbour




John Alexander Shirlow (1869 - 1936)


In good condition.


Etching signed lower right in pencil, numbered 13 of 100.

Image Size: 

x 215mm

Paper Size: 

x 277mm
Sydney Harbour - Antique Print from 1919

Genuine antique



Superb etching of Sydney Harbour by this well known Australian etcher .


John Alexander Thomas Shirlow (1869-1936), etcher and art teacher, born on 13 December 1869 at Sunbury, Victoria, son of Robert Shirlow and his wife Rebecca, née Flanigan, who had recently migrated from Ireland. His father was a graduate of Trinity College, Dublin, and became an excise officer. John attended various state schools and Scotch College, Melbourne (1883-84). He joined the printers Haase Duffus & Co., and then in 1889-1913 Sands & McDougall. From 1913 he worked with the electric supply department of the Melbourne City Council; at some stage he had graduated from the Working Men’s College with a diploma of electrical technology. Shirlow had become interested in art, studied briefly with Artur Loureiro, and from 1890 to 1895 attended classes at the school of design, National Gallery of Victoria, where etchings by Seymour Haden and James McNeill Whistler had a decisive influence on him. Shirlow constructed his own press and tools and taught himself the basic techniques of etching from P. G. Hamerton’s Etching and Etchers (London, 1868). Although other Australian artists had produced occasional etchings (John Mather in Melbourne, Livingston Hopkins in Sydney), Shirlow was the first to make artists’ prints the basis of an artistic career. In 1904 he published Five Etchings, the first portfolio by a painter-etcher in Australia; it was followed by three other books, the last in 1921. He worked from Nature, drawing directly onto his plates in reverse. Shirlow found his subject-matter mainly in the old buildings of Melbourne and his work was as much acquired for its historical as its artistic merit. Books on his prints—Etchings (Sydney, 1917), and Etched Work of John Shirlow (Melbourne, 1920) which included biographical commentary by his friend R. H. Croll—popularised his work. Examples of his prints were purchased by the British Museum and the Mitchell Library, Sydney, before 1920, but not by the National Gallery of Victoria, much to Shirlow’s distress.  He was appointed in 1913 as assistant examiner for drawing, University of Melbourne. From 1926 he was art master at Scotch College.

Shirlow had been at Charterisville in the 1890s and took a leading role in the artistic life of Melbourne. He was a council-member (1906-14) of the Victorian Artists’ Society, and a member of the Australian Art Association, Sydney Art Club and foundation vice-president of the Australian Painter-Etchers Society. A trustee (1922-36) of the National Gallery of Victoria, he was a conservative member (1933-36) of its Felton Bequest committee. He wrote reviews for the English magazine Studio, and published Perspective, a Text Book for the Use of Schools (1932), made artistic furniture, executed bookbindings, and for long periods sang with the Scots Church and St Paul’s Cathedral choirs and conducted the North Carlton Presbyterian Church choir. He was a bushwalking companion of Croll, C. J. Dennis and Web Gilbert.

Shirlow died on 22 June 1936 at home at Caulfield.

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