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Sidney Myer
, 1936

by Paul Montford

cast bronze on wooden base (including base: 86.0 cm x 65.0 cm depth 40.5 cm)

Sidney Myer (1878-1934), retail magnate and philanthropist, arrived in Melbourne in 1898 as a penniless Russian immigrant named Simca Baevski. He and his brother Elcon adopted the name Myer and worked briefly at a drapery store in Flinders Lane before moving to Bendigo, where they opened the first Myer store in 1900. The venture prospered, and they opened a second store in 1908. In 1911 Sidney Myer bought a drapery concern in Bourke Street, Melbourne, along with a number of neighbouring properties. On this site he built a department store called the Myer Emporium, which introduced to Australia the bargain basement, the self-service cafeteria, motorised home deliveries, and other advanced selling techniques based on Myer’s observations on frequent trips to the US and Europe. The business expanded to Adelaide and later across Australia. In 1920 he married Merlyn Baillieu, the daughter of an established Queenscliff family. Through the Depression Myer continued to expand and Sidney Myer made generous contributions to cultural and charitable causes, making funds available, for example, to provide work for unemployed married men on the Yarra Boulevard. Myer’s sons Kenneth Baillieu (who died in 1992) and Sidney Baillieu maintained the family’s tradition of philanthropic generosity and members of the Myer family remain prominent contributors to Melbourne’s civic and cultural life.

Paul Montford (1868–1938) came to Australia from England in 1921, attracted by the light, which he believed to be conducive to monumental sculpture. Settling in Melbourne, he soon created controversy with his avant-garde opinions about the social and environmental role of threedimensional art. A zestful worker, he is credited with fostering the proliferation of public sculpture in Australia. In 1927 Montford was commissioned to produce the external sculptures of Melbourne’s Shrine of Remembrance, and he made the eight relief portraits in the King’s Hall of Old Parliament House in Canberra.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Gift of Coles Myer Ltd 2002
Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program
Accession number: 2002.47