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William Macleod

1850 – 1929

William Macleod, artist and magazine proprietor, attended the Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts as a young teenager and saw his first illustration published in 1866. In due course, having gained a reputation for stained-glass, portraits and paintings of cattle, he became an illustrator in demand for such organs as the Sydney Mail, The Australian Town and Country Journal and Punch. At the beginning of 1880 he illustrated a story in the first issue of the Bulletin magazine and over the next seven years contributed illustrations to the Bulletin while hard at work on portraits for the centenary project, the serial Picturesque Atlas of Australia. He became joint owner of the Bulletin with Jules Archibald in 1887, and managed the journal for the next forty years, controlling its business affairs while encouraging artists including Livingston Hopkins and David Low. Thanks to an offhand remark by Victor Daly, he was destined to go down in history as a dullard, yet as a manager, according to his obituary in the Herald, ‘he was the embodiment of common sense, and he had a genius for diplomatic pacification.’ He worked in many art forms and mediums including black-and-white drawings, oils, watercolours, engravings, lithographs and clay busts. Resident of Dunvegan on Mosman Bay, renowned for genial hospitality, he left a very large fortune. In the years after he died, his second wife, journalist Agnes Conor O’Brien, completed Macleod of the Bulletin (1931). The Art Gallery of New South Wales has his oil portraits of Percy Leason and Livingston Hopkins. The National Gallery has his engraved portrait of Archbishop Vaughan, and the National Library and various state libraries also have examples of his portrait lithographs.

Updated 2018