The sunhat
Summer light

Born Melbourne, Australia 1889, died Melbourne 1939


William McInnes studied at the National Gallery School, Melbourne from 1904 to 1909 under Frederick McCubbin and Bernard Hall, receiving several landscape awards as a student. In 1912 he went to Europe on a study tour, where he was influenced by the work of Rembrandt van Rijn, Diego Velázquez, Frans Hals and Henry Raeburn. He exhibited with the Royal Institute of Oil Painters in London and then with the Athenaeum Gallery on his return to Melbourne the following year.

McInnes’s brushwork, comparable to Arthur Streeton’s, comprised thick, brushy applications of paint, employed in the creation of poetic and romantic renditions of the Australian landscape. His landscape and portrait work brought him both critical acclaim and honours throughout his career, including the Wynne Prize in 1918, and the inaugural Archibald Prize, 1921. McInnes was awarded the Archibald another five times in 1922, 1923, 1924, 1930 and 1936.

President of the Australian Art Society in 1923–24, and member of the Australian Academy of Art, McInnes also held a post at the National Gallery School, Melbourne first as drawing master from 1918 to 1934, then as acting director and finally as director with the passing of Bernard Hall in 1935.

The National Gallery of Victoria and Art Gallery of New South Wales both held memorial exhibitions for McInnes in 1940 and he has been included in the major Australian exhibition Federation: Australian Art and Society, 1901–2001, National Gallery of Australia and touring (2000–02). His work is represented in the collections of the National Gallery of Australia, all major state galleries and many regional galleries.