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W B McInnes

1889 – 1939

William Beckwith (Bill) McInnes studied at the NGV School and later undertook study tours of Europe and the UK. He taught drawing at the NGV School from 1917 to 1934 and was its Head from 1934 to 1939. In 1935 and 1936 he acted as director of the NGV. Beginning in 1921, McInnes won five of the first six Archibald Prizes, writing in defence of his conservative work that 'in Australia we have not been bitten by Cubism or Futurism or other isms . . . and I am glad of it.' He was to win the prize twice more, in 1930 and 1936. Sir William Dargie was the only artist to win more times than McInnes; he employed a style similar to McInnes's, of optical realism based on tonal values, which had been handed down from Bernard Hall, McInnes's teacher, via Max Meldrum to Archibald Colquhoun, Dargie's teacher. In 1927 McInnes was commissioned, with Septimus Power, to paint the opening of Federal Parliament by HRH the Duke of York.

Updated 2018