Sir William Dargie
SIR JAMES A.M.K.
ELDER, K.B.E., 1941
This work was awarded the Archibald Prize for 1941.
The work is illustrated in 'Let's Face It', by Peter Ross published in 1999, and Ross informs us that it was one of the 133 works submitted for the Archibald Prize by 83 artists. The prize money for that year was 443 pounds 13 shillings and 4 pence, and the exhibition dates were from 17 January to 18 February 1942.
Ross notes that 'William Dargie had recently been appointed an official war artist with the A.I.F. The subject of his first Archibald prize-winning portrait, Sir James Elder, was director of the National Bank of Australia'.
Ross further notes
that 'Dargie won his first Archibald Prize in 1942, as a young man of
twenty-nine, and at the time of the announcement he was digging a trench
south of Tobruk.
The win, it turned
out, may have been illegal the artist revealed in an interview in 1997.
As with many of Dargie's Archibald prize-winning works, the critics were harsh in their comments, and Anna Waldmann in her Summer 1982 article on 'The Archibald Prize' in Art and Australia noted that the Daily Telegraph critic described the work as 'dreary and uninspired'.
Sir James Alexander Mackenzie Elder, was anything but that.
In January 1925, while
in the United States, in recognition of his services to Australian trade,
he was knighted. He also served as a member of the Royal Commission on
wireless services in 1927.
In the 'Australian
Dictionary of Biography' entry for Elder, it is noted that in 1932
he was described as 'being tall and well-built, with silver-grey hair,
the 'glow of health in his cheeks' and a ready smile'.
Further information on Sir James Alexander Mackenzie Elder, is provided in the 1944 edition of 'Who's Who in Australia'.
Arthur Streeton - Above Us The Great Grave Sky, 1890