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Ashton, Julian Rossi (1851–1942)

from Sydney Morning Herald

Julian Ashton, Fairfax Corporation, 1929

Julian Ashton, Fairfax Corporation, 1929

National Library of Australia, 51959826

The death on Monday afternoon, at the age of 91, of Mr. Julian Rossi Ashton, teacher and painter, ended a life devoted to art.

Known affectionately as the "Grand Old Man" of Australian art, he could justly claim to have been the trusted adviser of more young Australian painters than any other artist. Most of the exhibiting artists in Sydney to-day were, at some time or other, his pupils, and although many of them, because of study abroad and under other masters, may have found themselves strongly opposed to many of their former teacher's opinions, they have never lost their respect and affection for the man who gave them their early guidance.

His death will be mourned by artists and art-lovers throughout the Commonwealth.

Born at Penzance, Cornwall, in 1851, he received his first art lessons at the West London School of Art, and later was one of the first pupils at the Académie Julien in Paris. After exhibiting at the Royal Academy, he came to Australia and settled in Melbourne in 1878.

Moving to Sydney, he became president of the Royal Art Society (1886-92), a trustee of the National Gallery (1889 to 1899), president of the Society of Artists (1897-8 and 1907-21).

He was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1930.

Although in recent years he had painted little, he continued his teaching until shortly before his death.

Among his students were Gruner, Lambert, J. J. Hilder, Thea Proctor, Rah Fizelle, William Dobell, Adrian Feint, and many young painters of to-day.

He was mainly responsible for the establishment of the travelling scholarship which has enabled so many young painters to study in England and on the Continent.

He is represented by paintings in most Australian galleries, including those at Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane, Bendigo, and Geelong. Pictures of his are also hanging in the National Portrait Gallery, London, and the Turnbull Library, Wellington.

The Premier, Mr. McKell, presented a portrait of Sir Henry Parkes painted by Mr. Ashton to the Legislative Assembly some months ago.

The funeral will take place at the Northern Suburbs Crematorium at 3 p.m. to-day.

The director of the National Art Gallery of New South Wales, Mr. Will Ashton, said yesterday that a small group of Mr. Julian Ashton's paintings would be hung immediately in the gallery as a memorial exhibition.

"It will be impossible to show many of his works," he said, "as most of them have been packed away as a precaution against air-raids.

"All painters will regret his death. He did a great deal for art in Australia, and his valuable influence, will be difficult to replace. Although I have the same name as he, I am no relation. He was a very lovable man."

Other tributes were:
Mr. Syd. Long: "I was a pupil of Julian Ashton, and he did a tremendous lot for me. He was a generous hearted friend. His death will come as a great blow to many artists and students."

Mr. Rah Fizelle: "His long life was dedicated to art, and he will be affectionately remembered by his many pupils and others for many years to come. He was admired by all."

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Citation details

'Ashton, Julian Rossi (1851–1942)', Obituaries Australia, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://oa.anu.edu.au/obituary/ashton-julian-rossi-5073/text35381, accessed 18 November 2018.

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