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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

John Shirlow, c. 1937

Julian Smith

gelatin silver photograph on paper (image: 46.6 cm x 36.1 cm)

John Shirlow (1869–1936) etcher, was the first Australian to make etching the basis of his career. Schooled in Melbourne, he studied for a time with Arthur Loureiro and attended design classes at the National Gallery School from 1890 to 1895. In 1904 he published Five Etchings, the first portfolio by a painter-etcher in Australia; it was followed by three other art books – including The Etched Work of John Shirlow, (1920), edited by his friend Robert Henderson Croll – and a school textbook on perspective. Specialising in renderings of old Melbourne buildings, which are now of great historical interest, he drew directly onto the plate in reverse. In 1929 he founded etching classes at the Working Men’s Institute. Throughout his life a prominent figure on the Victorian art scene, he was involved in various choirs and bushwalked with Croll and poet CJ Dennis. He was a Trustee of the National Gallery of Victoria from 1922 to 1936.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2011

Accession number: 2011.84

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Julian Smith (age 64 in 1937)

John Shirlow

Subject professions

Visual arts and crafts

Related portraits

1. The Surgeon (Dr Julian Smith), 1934. All Harold Cazneaux.

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.