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William Griffith

1808 – 1870

William Griffith (c. 1808-1870) emigrated to Australia around 1840 and moved to Parramatta with his wife, Susan, whom he had married ten days after landing in Sydney. In Parramatta, Susan ran a school for girls where it is presumed Griffith taught drawing. He also established a thriving portrait practice. Most of his clients were people from Parramatta and western Sydney whose likenesses Griffith executed mainly in pencil, watercolour, crayon and chalk - the latter an unusual medium among artists in NSW at this time, but said to have been preferred by artists trained, as Griffith was, in Paris. In 1847, a Sydney newspaper described him as 'one of the best painters in the colony and certainly the first chalk draughtsman.' His work was included in exhibitions by the Society for the Promotion of Fine Arts in Australia and in an exhibition of local art held at the King's School, Parramatta, in 1847. His business declined with the introduction to Australia of the daguerreotype and many of his drawings were destroyed by a fire in 1854. Examples of his work are in collections such as the Mitchell Library; Historic Houses Trust; the Art Gallery of South Australia; the King's School; and St. John's Church, Parramatta.

Updated 2018