Melbourne estate auctions works by Archibald Prize winner

Author: Richard Brewster | Posted: 10th October, 2019

Seventeen paintings by Australian artist and 1933 Archibald Prize winner Charles Wheeler (1880-1977) from his own estate will be auctioned from 6.30pm Monday October 14 as part of Gibson’s Auctions Australian and International Art sale at 885-889 High Street, Armadale.

The paintings include a self-portrait (lot 3) painted during his student days and the Untitled (Mooring on the River Thames) (lot 16).

Among his other works for auction are two works featuring Dora Green – one entitled Portrait of Dorrie (Dora Green) (lot 6) and the other Dorrie, circa 1938 (lot 11).

Born in Dunedin, Wheeler moved to Melbourne in 1891 with his mother Julia after his father John died.

Apprenticed in 1895 as a lithographic artist, three years later he took night drawing classes under Frederick McCubbin at the National Gallery schools.

In 1905, Wheeler joined the painting class and five years later held his first one-man show where his work The Portfolio was purchased by the National Art Gallery of New South Wales and The Poem by the National Gallery of Victoria.

In April 1912, he went to London, visiting Paris and Madrid to view Velazquez’s work, and the following year exhibited ‘Le Printemps’ at the Salon de la Societe des Artistes Francais in Paris.

During World War I, Wheeler enlisted in the Royal Fusiliers and was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal for his actions at Vimy Ridge.

After he was demobilised in 1919 he rented a studio at Chelsea and exhibited ‘Autumn Afternoon’ and ‘Golden Hours’ at the Royal Academy of Arts in London.

Back in Melbourne, Wheeler held an exhibition at the Athenaeum Gallery in March 1920 and privately taught drawing and painting.

In 1927, he became assistant drawing instructor at the NGV and eight years later its drawing master.

During this time, Wheeler’s work as a portraitist and competent landscapist was enormously popular and he won the New South Wales Art Quest prize (1929), the George Crouch prize (1932 and 1934) and the Archibald.

From 1939-1945 he was painting master and head of the gallery schools and received an OBE in 1951.

A self-portrait of Wheeler painted in 1922 is held by the NGV and he is represented in State galleries, the Australian National War Memorial, the University of Melbourne and the Castlemaine Art Gallery.  

Other paintings in the auction include Snow Landscape, 1959 by Sidney Nolan (1917-1922) (lot 35), Criss Canning’s Still Life, 1985 (lot 32) and Kenneth Jack’s (1924-2006) Waterhole, Lurderderg River, 1962 (lot 38).

Further artists of note include Albert Tucker (1914-1999) (lot 40 – Figure Leading Camel), William Dobell (1899-1970) (lot 45 – Portrait of W.S. Robinson, former Rio Tinto/CRA director) and Arthur Victor Gregory (1867-1957) lots 22 Lord Brassy and 23 Loch Broom, Glasgow, 1918 from the Graham Joel collection.

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