George Bell (painter)

From Wikipedia

George Bell

Australian Official War Artists by Coates.jpg
Portrait of Australian official war artists, 1916–1918 by George Coates, 1920
George Bell is seated in front
George Frederick Henry Bell

(1878-12-01)1 December 1878
Kew, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Died22 October 1966(1966-10-22) (aged 87)
Toorak, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  • Painter
  • portraitist
  • teacher
  • art critic
  • violinist

George Frederick Henry Bell OBE (1 December 1878 – 22 October 1966) was an Australian painter and teacher, critic, portraitist, violinist and war artist. [1]


He was born in Kew, Victoria, the son of George Bell, and his wife Clara Bowler [1] public servant, and educated at Kew High School. He studied at the National Gallery of Victoria Art School from 1895 to 1903. [1] and continued his studies in Paris and London in the early 1900s.

During World War I he worked first as a teacher and then in a munitions factory. From October 1918 to the end of 1919 he was an official war artist to the 4th Division of the Australian Imperial Force. [2]

Bell's major war painting concerning the Battle of Hamel: Dawn at Hamel 4 July 1918, was completed in Australia in 1921 and now hangs in the Australian War Memorial. [1] [3]

The Ballarat Fine Art Gallery collection includes his work entitled The Conversation. One of his early formal paintings, The Conversation, was painted while he was overseas and was first exhibited at the Modern Society of Portrait Painters in 1911. [4]

In 1932, he and Arnold Shore opened an art school at 443 Bourke Street, Melbourne, which became the centre of modern art in Melbourne. [1] Their students over the years included Russell Drysdale, Sali Herman and Bill Salmon. Later in 1932, he formed the Contemporary Group of Melbourne. In 1934, he undertook a lengthy study trip to England, where he became interested in the work of Iain MacNab. [5] In 1937, the federal Attorney General, Robert Menzies, attempted to establish the Australian Academy of Art, an Australian equivalent to the Royal Academy. Bell was the leading opponent of the plan and a spokesman for "modern art", and pursued a prolonged public argument with Menzies, forming the Contemporary Art Society of which Bell became founding president. [6] Artists associated with Bell and the Contemporary Art Society included Constance Stokes and Sali Herman.

He was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1966. [7] He died at his home at Toorak the same year, survived by his wife and daughter. [1]


See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f Williams, Fred (1979). "Bell, George Frederick Henry (1878–1966)". Australian Dictionary of Biography. Melbourne University Press. ISSN  1833-7538. Retrieved 10 July 2008 – via National Centre of Biography, Australian National University.
  2. ^ Australian War Memorial (AWM), First World War, official artists
  3. ^ "AWM Collection Record: ART03590: Dawn at Hamel, 4 July 1918". Australian War Memorial. 2008. Archived from the original on 6 September 2008. Retrieved 10 July 2008.
  4. ^ "Bell, George". Ballarat Fine Art Gallery. Retrieved 10 July 2008.
  5. ^ *Encyclopedia of Australian Art Alan McCulloch, Hutchison of London, 1968
  6. ^ Bell, George Frederick Henry (1878–1966). Australian Dictionary of Biography. Retrieved 12 December 2010.
  7. ^ It's an Honour. Retrieved 4 April 2018

External links