Robert Emerson Curtis (1898-1996)
Curtis was a painter, illustrator and cartoonist, born in Croydon, England, on 4 October 1898, educated in Chile (1909-12) and at Farnham Grammar School, England (1912-14). His family came to Australia in 1914 and he worked on their farm in Queensland until 1919. He he moved to Brisbane where his first job was as an illustrator with a Brisbane department store. In 1922 Curtis sailed to the USA with his friend, the pioneer filmmaker, Charles Chauvel. There he studied at the Art Institutes of San Francisco and Chicago and undertook industrial commissions as a freelance commercial artist. While in Chicago, Curtis worked as an architectural draftsman for the town planner of San Francisco Daniel H. Burnham (1846-1912), after the great fire of 1871 led to intense skyscraper rebuilding in the ’80s and ’90s.
Curtis returned to Sydney in 1928 and began recording the erection of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and produced a series of lithographs.