Robert Emerson Curtis (1898–1986), artist, arrived in Sydney from England in his mid-teens. Having studied art by correspondence, he went to the USA with his friend, cinematographer Charles Chauvel, in 1922 and spent six years in San Francisco and Chicago, studying, creating etchings and woodcuts and illustrating various magazines. Surprised on his return to Sydney to find that an arch bridge was under way, he approached engineer John Bradfield and requested access to the Sydney Harbour Bridge site. Over the ensuing years he created a series of lithographs documenting the construction. Some of these were published as Building the Bridge in 1933; others, along with his recollections of the period, were published in the book The Bridge in 1981. During World War 2 he depicted munitions manufacture and worked as a camouflage officer in Cairns and New Guinea; in 1945, as an official war artist, he depicted industry associated with the war in Australia. In the postwar years Curtis shared Max Dupain’s interest in the construction of the Opera House; his A Vision Takes Form - Sydney Opera House was published in 1967.


  • Title: Robert Emerson Curtis
  • Creator: Max Dupain
  • Date Created: 1943
  • Physical Dimensions: sheet: 40.5 x 40.0 cm, image: 40.5 x 40.0 cm
  • Provenance: Collection:National Portrait Gallery, Canberra Gift of Richard King 2008 Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program
  • Rights: https://www.portrait.gov.au/form-image-request.php
  • External Link: https://www.portrait.gov.au/portraits/2008.31
  • Medium: Gelatin silver photograph

Get the app

Explore museums and play with Art Transfer, Pocket Galleries, Art Selfie, and more


Google apps