An image of 'Two sketches' or 'Head of a clergyman and head of a youth reading'

Phil May

(England, Australia 27 Apr 1864 – 05 Aug 1903)

'Two sketches' or 'Head of a clergyman and head of a youth reading'

Other titles:
Two pencil sketches, Head of a clergyman, Head of a clergyman (The Reverand J Brophy), Two sketches / Head of a clergyman (The Reverand J Brophy)
Not on display
Further information

As with Livingston Hopkins, it was the inspired inducement of W H Traill of 'The Bulletin' that brought Phil May to Australia. In his brief time at 'The Bulletin' between 1886 and 1888, May quickly established himself as one of the finest cartoonists in the colony. In the 'Encyclopedia of Australian art', Alan and Susan McCulloch credit May as 'largely responsible for setting the high standard of draughtsmanship attained by the black-and-white artists of the Sydney 'Bulletin'.' James Tyrrell, in his book 'Old books, old friends, old Sydney' (1952), wrote that whenever Phil May met the Reverand J Brophy, a retired clergyman and the main subject of this drawing: 'he would get him to pose for a sketch. The old gentleman never seemed to mind posing for Phil, and he was needy enough to welcome with thanks and a blessing, the invariable five-shilling model's fee which Phil passed on to him.'

A J Daplyn (1844-1926), to whom Phil May dedicated this drawing, was the first art instructor at the Royal Art Society School, Sydney 1885-92. He encouraged his students to paint en plein air and wrote the influential book 'Landscape painting from nature in Australia' (1902). Among his best known pupils were Charles Conder (1868-1909) and Sydney Long (1871-1955).

excerpt from Hendrik Kolenberg, Anne Ryan and Patricia James, '19th century Australian watercolours, drawings & pastels in the Gallery's collection', Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 2005

28.9 x 21.9 cm sheet
Signature & date

Signed and dated u.r., pencil "PHIL MAY/ '87". Signed l.l., pencil ".../ .../ ... Phil May [underlined]/ aug 29/87".

Gift of Howard Hinton 1915
Accession number