‘He was a great bloke, a gentleman and a scholar,’ one of Scott Bevan’s interviewees says of his subject, the fêted and (at one stage) ill-fated painter, William Dobell. Like many others in the book, this interviewee got to know Dobell at Wangi Wangi, the little coastal township just south of Newcastle in New South Wales where the painter retreated for the last third of his life, following the unsuccessful but nonetheless wearing legal case mounted against him when he was awarded the Archibald Prize for portraiture in 1943. (The plaintiffs had sought to claim that the prize-winning work was a caricature.)
Ian Britain is an honorary senior research fellow in the School of Historical Studies at the University of Melbourne. He is writing a biography of Donald Friend, as a complement to his edition of The Donald Friend Diaries: Chronicles and Confessions of an Australian Artist (2010).
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