Sir George Russell Drysdale (1912-1981), artist, was born on 7 February 1912 at Bognor Regis, Sussex, England, son of George Russell Drysdale, a gentleman of private means and Scottish ancestry, and his wife Isobel, née Gates, who was English. George Russell Drysdale was his grandfather. Having relinquished a commission with the Black Watch, his father returned in 1919 to Pioneer, the family’s sugar farm on the Burdekin River in northern Queensland. The family moved to Melbourne in 1923 and `Tas’, as he was known, went to Geelong Church of England Grammar School. When his father acquired Boxwood Park in the Riverina district in 1926, Tas was introduced to the inland plains that had been memorialised by novels of Tom Collins [Jospeh Furphy] and Marcus Clarke, by the work of the nineteenth-century Aboriginal artist Tommy McCrae, and by Tom Roberts’s paintings `Shearing the Rams’ and `The Breakaway’.
(Bio from: Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 17, (MUP), 2007 http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/drysdale-sir-george-russell-12439)
In 1947 Drysdale won the Wynne Prize, Australia's principal landscape award. He was selected for the Twelve Australian Artists Exhibition sponsored by the Arts Council of Great Britain (1953) and for the Venice Biennale (1954).
In 1959 Drysdale did a series of drawings to illustrate newspaper articles by A. S. Marshall on the continent's northwest frontier lands; subsequently these appeared in Marshall's Journey among Men (1962). Following this series, Drysdale painted aborigines of the tropical regions, showing them as symbolic figures sometimes barely distinguishable from the totems, trees, and rocks of their tribal land.
A retrospective exhibition of Drysdale's paintings was held in Sydney in 1960. He was knighted in 1969 and became a Companion of the Order of Australia in 1980. He died in 1981. After his death, three books were written about him and his work. Klepac, Lou, The Life and Works of Russell Drysdale, Bay Books, Sydney, 1983; Boddington, Jennie, Drysdale Photographer, NGV, Melbourne, 1987; and Catalano, Gary, An Intimate Australian: The landscape and recent Australian art, Hale & Ironmonger, Sydney, 1985.
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