McINNES, William Beckwith (1889-1939)


McINNES, William Beckwith (1889-1939)
artist
was born at Ringwood near Melbourne, on 18 May 1889. He was a somewhat delicate child who wanted to draw from the time he could first handle a pencil. At the age of 14 he entered the drawing school at the national gallery of Victoria under Frederick McCubbin (q.v.), and later on graduated into the painting school under L. Bernard Hall (q.v.). When only 17 he submitted a very promising painting for the scholarship competition, but three years later the picture he sent in did not do him justice, and though probably the ablest student of his time, he was not placed either first or second. In 1908 he won the first prizes for drawing the figure from life, and for painting a head from life, and shared the prize for a landscape. Soon afterwards he held a successful show of his paintings at the Athenaeum gallery in conjunction with F. R. Crozier, which was followed in 1911 by a journey to Europe, where he did much landscape painting and made acquaintance with the masterpieces of Rembrandt, Velasquez and Raeburn. He never wavered in his allegiance to these men and their methods. He was represented in London at the exhibition of the Royal Institute of Painters in oils in 1913, and returned to Melbourne in the same year. He held a one man show at the Athenaeum gallery and nearly everything was sold. In 1916 he acted as locum tenens for Frederick McCubbin, master of the school of drawing at the national gallery, Melbourne, during his six months' leave of absence, and after his death was temporarily appointed to the position in 1918. In 1920 he was permanently appointed. In 1921 he won the Archibald prize for portraiture, a success repeated in the three following years. He revisited Europe in 1925 and on his return found he was in great demand as a portrait painter. For many years he was unable to spare time to do landscape work. In 1928 one of his portraits was well hung at the Royal Academy, and in 1933 he visited England again to paint the Duke of York, afterwards King George VI. In the following year, on Bernard Hall leaving for England as adviser for the Felton bequest, McInnes was appointed acting-director of the national gallery of Victoria, and on Mr Hall's death was appointed head of the painting school. McInnes had suffered from an imperfect heart all his life, his general health became affected' and in July 1939 he resigned his position as master of the school of painting. He died on 9 November 1939. He married in 1915 Violet Muriel Musgrave, a capable flower painter, who survived him with four sons and two daughters.
McInnes was a man of slightly under medium height stockily built. He was kindly in his disposition, had no enemies and many friends. He was quiet in manner and somewhat inarticulate. Though he was for a great many years on the council of the Victorian Artists' Society, and president for one year of the Australian Art Association, he was content to leave problems of administration to other people. He was interested in the newly-formed Australian Academy of Art, because he considered it was necessary to have a body which could speak for Australian artists as a whole, and sat on its council for two or three years before his death. But his painting was his life and he had practically no recreations or interests outside his art. Somewhat conservative in his outlook, he was opposed to the extreme wing of the modernist school, and would not allow the movement to have any influence on his own work. As a landscape painter be was excellent in composition and sound in drawing, with a fine feeling for air and sunlight. His portraits were finely modelled, soundly painted, excellent likenesses and in many cases fine studies of character. He is represented in national galleries at Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth, and at Canberra, Castlemaine and other galleries. A self-portrait is in the Sydney gallery.
A. Colquhoun, The Work of W. Beckwith McInnes; W. Moore, The Story of Australian Art; The Herald, Melbourne, 9 November 1939; The Age and The Argus, Melbourne, 10 November 1939; The Book of the Public Library, 1906-31; personal knowledge.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • William Beckwith McInnes — (18 May 1889 – 9 November 1939) was a famous Australian portrait painter, winner of the Archibald Prize seven times for his traditional style paintings. Early lifeMcInneEllie Carins was born in Launceston, Tasmania. He was keen to draw from the… …   Wikipedia

  • McInnes — /məˈkɪnəs/ (say muh kinuhs) noun William Beckwith, 1889–1939, Australian landscape and portrait painter; winner of six Archibald Prize awards …   Australian English dictionary

  • McInnes — ist der Familienname folgender Personen: Campbell McInnes (1873/74–1945), britisch kanadischer Bariton Derek McInnes (* 1971), schottischer Fußballspieler Graham McInnes (1912–1970), Filmregisseur John McInnes (* 1927), Schriftsteller Thomas… …   Deutsch Wikipedia


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