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Curriculum Vitae Antonio Dattilo-Rubbo

Below is a brief overview of the milestones of Antonio Dattilo-Rubbo's life.
You will also find a summary of his exhibitions - Over the years he had 27 works selected for the Archibald, Sulman and Wynne Prizes. Included here as well is a list of public galleries and museums in Australia that hold his works.

An extract from an exhibition catalogue of 1943 shows Dattilo-Rubbo's generosity in donating works for important causes. 

Dattilo-Rubbo c 1910

1870   Born June 22 in Naples, Italy, Antonio Salvatore Dattilo-Rubbo. Son of Luigi-Raffele and  Raffaela Dattilo-Rubbo
1888 – 1889 Begins art studies at the Municipal School of Fine Arts in Rome. Gains Certificate
1889 – 1891 Completes military service
1897    September: arrives in Sydney
Opens art school for drawing and painting in Australian Chambers, Rowe Street
1898 – 1919    Part-time art master at St. Joseph’s College, Hunters Hill
1898 – 1937    Art master at Scots College
1900    Ad for his art school appears in the Art Society Catalogue with timetable
Elected member of the Council of the Art Society. Becomes instructor in painting at Art Society and holds position until 1928
1901 – 1902   
Ad for art school appears in the Art Society Catalogue stating fees: £1.1.0 per quarter
1903    Obtains British citizenship
1904  December: Marries Mildred Jobson
1906 – 1907  Travels to London, Paris and Italy
1907 – 1909 Conducts weekly art lessons Cambridge School on Parramatta River, Hunters Hill. Florence Hooper, a former student, is principal
1907 – 1910
‘The Atelier’ Art Classes for Ladies and Gentlemen. Ad appears every year in the Royal Art Society Catalogue
1911 – 1915 Lives at North Sydney
1911 September 11: son Sydney Rubbo born
1912    Awarded James Fairfax Prize for Pencil Drawing
Challenges C.E.S. Tindall to a duel regarding the acceptance of ‘Down the Hill to Berry’s Bay’ by Roland Wakelin for the annual Royal Art Society exhibition
1916 Moves to Osborne Road, Manly
1917 Son Mark Anthony Rubbo born
1918 Moves to 144 Addison Road, Manly
1919 Member of the War Memorial Advisory Board
1919 Speaks at opening of exhibition of colour-music paintings by Roy de Maistre and Roland Wakelin at Gayfield Shaw Gallery
1922  Fellow of Royal Art Society, one of the first eight along with William Lister Lister, Charles Bryant, J.S. Watkins, Lawson Balfour, James R. Jackson, Sir John Langstaff and Margaret Preston
Member of the first Committee of Manly Art Gallery with Charles Bryant; is first to donate a painting to the collection Aboriginal Head
1924   Moves to studio in Hudson House, 15 Bligh Street. Ad in Royal Art Society catalogue
1926 – 1939 Conducts weekly art classes at Rose Bay Convent
1927 Moves from Manly to 45 Prince Albert Street, Mosman
1928 July 18: Presented with Official Royal Art Society Diploma
1932 Made Knight of the Order of the Crown of Italy, conferring the title of Cavaliere
1933 June 8: exhibition of students’ works
1933 September 1: Son Mark, aged 16, dies of meningitis
1934 Resigns from Royal Art Society and becomes member of the Society of Artists
1936 Builds a studio adjoining his home in Mosman
1939 Gives a collection of 100 paintings to Manly Art Gallery on the condition that room is built to house the works
1940 Interned for a short period on the outbreak of World War II, because of ‘suspicion of disloyalty, I believe, through my title, and then a donation to an Italian club of one of my works and a monetary contribution towards expenses for furnishing it’ ( from a letter to the  Secretary of the  Manly Art Gallery)
1941 Retires from Art School, hands over to Frances Ellis. Studio moves to 70 Pitt Street
1942 Makes application to serve as war artist
1943 Wife Mildred dies
1947 Commissioned to paint posthumous portrait of Prime Minister John Curtin for Kings Hall at Parliament House in Canberra
1954 Made Life Member of the Society of Artists
1955 Dies June 1

A very personal view of Antonio Dattilo-Rubbo is recorded by his grandson, Mike Rubbo, in his blog of 10 March 2008 on familyartstoriesrubbo.wordpress.com

Antonio Dattilo-Rubbo's work is represented in these public galleries and museums:

Manly Art Gallery & Museum, Manly, NSW, holds 130 works. See images of the works in The Collection

These galleries hold one or several works by Antonio Dattilo-Rubbo:

Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide
Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth
Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane

Howard Hinton Collection, Armidale, NSW
University Art Museum, University of Queensland, Brisbane
Bathurst Regional Art Gallery, NSW
Ballarat Regional Art Gallery, VIC
Benalla Art Gallery, VIC
Albury Regional Gallery, NSW
Wollongong City Art Gallery, NSW

National Art Gallery, Wellington, New Zealand

  The National Portrait Gallery in Canberra holds this striking sculpture
created in 1935 by Arthur Murch. It is exhibited in the gallery's new  space. 


Solo and group exhibitions of Dattilo-Rubbo's work

1901       Victorian Gold Jubilee, Bendigo
1912       James Fairfax Drawing Competition - First Prize awarded
1912-13  Salon des Artistes Professionels, Paris
1918       Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney
1919       Solo exhibition, Decoration Galleries, Melbourne
1919       Pictures of the Year, federal exhibition, Adelaide
1923       Australian Society of Artists in London
1930       International Art Centre of Roerich Museum, New York  
1932       Sydney Harbour Bridge Celebrations, Australian Painter Etchers' Society
1936       Manly Art Gallery
1938       150 Anniversary Exhibition, Art Gallery of NSW
1949       Solo exhibition, Macquarie Galleries, Sydney;
                Proceeds of sales donated to Manly Art Gallery
1949       Solo exhibition, Moreton Galleries, Brisbane
1950       Society of Artists, David Jones Gallery, Sydney
1952       Mostre d'Oltremare, Naples
1954       Artists by Artists, Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney
1955       Posthumous exhibition, organised by the Dante Alighieri Society
                and the Centro Italiano D'Arte, Bissietta Art Gallery
1974       135 Years of Australian Watercolours, Fremantle Arts Centre
1980       Retrospective Exhibition Antonio Dattilo-Rubbo, Manly Art Gallery & Museum
1993       The Italian Connection, S.H. Ervin Gallery
1995       Cav. Antonio Dattilo-Rubbo from the Francis Ellis Collection, Boronia Art Gallery
2002       Dattilo-Rubbo Memorial Exhibition, Manly Art Gallery & Museum
November: For Limited Release: the Best Paintings from the MAG&M Collection
2009       February: Exhibition for the launch of this website,
Manly Art Gallery & Museum
2010       September: 80 Tales from the Vault: Celebrating the 80th Anniversary of the Manly
                  Art Gallery & Museum. 

For Limited Release: the Best Paintings from the
Manly Art Gallery & Museum Collection.  To name but a few artists  in the show apart from Antonio Dattilo-Rubbo: his students Roy de Maistre, Grace Cossington Smith, Margaret Preston, Roland Wakelin and Donald Friend; and masters such as Tom Roberts, Ethel Carrick Fox, Emanuel Phillips Fox, Rah Fizelle, Norman Lindsay, Ralph Balson and Euan McLeod.

Antonio Dattilo-Rubbo's work in the Archibald, Sulman and Wynne Prizes

Between 1924 and 1951, 27 paintings by Antonio Dattilo-Rubbo were exhibited in these prestigious art competitions, held annually by the Art Gallery of New South Wales since 1921.

His portraits were shown in 18 Archibald Prizes: in his first submission for 1924 he was represented three times, with a portrait of Mrs G.H. Taubman, a portrait of Nelson Illingworth and a self portrait.

In the Wynne prize for landscape, his works were shown three times (twice for 1944, one for 1946),  and in the Sulman Prize, his genre paintings were exhibited six times (
twice in the prizes for 1940, twice in 1944, and in 1946 and 1950).

Dattilo-Rubbo himself was the subject for two other artists' entries to the Archibald Prize: in 1935 Arthur J. Murch's portrait of Dattilo-Rubbo was exhibited, and in 1942 Frances D. Ellis' (his successor in his art school) portrait was shown. 

Exhibitions as Fundraisers

Antonio Dattilo-Rubbo donated generously to causes that were important to him. The exhibition ‘Art’s Tribute to Red Cross’ was organised by ‘The Coin Catchers’ of the Red Cross Centre in 1943 and reveals that Dattilo-Rubbo was made an honorary life member of the Red Cross after World War I. He donated 50 works to this fundraiser, along with other artists such as Eric Langker, Alison Rehfisch, Henry Hanke, Tempe Manning, Elaine Haxton, John Allcott and Joshua Smith. Here is the introduction:

‘In presenting ‘Art’s Tribute to Red Cross’, we have only one apology to make and that to those artists whom we may have overlooked in our quest for pictures. The period for organising the exhibition, unfortunately, was all too short and was further curtailed by our being workaday people. Therefore, the absence of any artists from the list of exhibitors should not be taken to imply any more than the lack of opportunity to assist Red Cross.

We feel that our choice of title, ‘Art’s Tribute to Red Cross’ has been more than justified, for the response, both in numbers and quality of works donated, has been truly magnificent. It was indeed fortunate that a splendid nucleus should have been formed through the extreme generosity of Cav. A. Dattilo-Rubbo, who gave to our exhibition the balance of his life’s work. It was a gesture typical of one who, for his Red Cross efforts during World War I, was elected a Life Member of the Australian Red Cross Society.

The pictures donated were not subjected to the judgment of a Selection Committee, for it was felt that those whose love for their art was exceeded only by their love for their fellowmen would give to Red Cross works that were both representative and worthy. The exhibits bear testimony to the measure in which that confidence has been upheld.’


Copyright Manly Art Gallery & Museum 2008. Funded by the Gordon Darling Foundation. Created by Banziger Hulme Fine Art Consultants.
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