John Shirlow (1869–1936) etcher, was the first Australian to make etching the basis of his career. Schooled in Melbourne, he studied for a time with Arthur Loureiro and attended design classes at the National Gallery School from 1890 to 1895. In 1904 he published Five Etchings, the first portfolio by a painter-etcher in Australia; it was followed by three other art books – including The Etched Work of John Shirlow, (1920), edited by his friend Robert Henderson Croll – and a school textbook on perspective. Specialising in renderings of old Melbourne buildings, which are now of great historical interest, he drew directly onto the plate in reverse. In 1929 he founded etching classes at the Working Men’s Institute. Throughout his life a prominent figure on the Victorian art scene, he was involved in various choirs and bushwalked with Croll and poet CJ Dennis. He was a Trustee of the National Gallery of Victoria from 1922 to 1936.


  • Title: John Shirlow
  • Creator: Julian Smith
  • Date Created: c. 1937
  • Physical Dimensions: image: 46.6 x 36.1 cm
  • Provenance: Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra Purchased 2011
  • Rights: https://www.portrait.gov.au/form-image-request.php
  • External Link: https://www.portrait.gov.au/portraits/2011.84
  • Medium: Gelatin silver photograph

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