Kookaburras
A study for ‘The hour of romance’

Born Goulburn, New South Wales, Australia 1871, lived England 1910–21 and 1952–55, died England 1955


Sydney Long began his studies at the Art Society of New South Wales under A.J. Daplyn and Julian Ashton in 1892. Daplyn was steeped in the French plein air school of art making, while Ashton encouraged good draftsmanship and representation. Long was also influenced by the writers A.G. Stephens and Christopher Brennan and their views on symbolism, as well as the graphic works of Aubrey Beardsley.

Long’s early work is best characterised by his paintings of the Australian bush, populated with nymphs, fauns and birds depicted in the stylised manner of art nouveau. His departure from this decorative mode occurred around the time of his move to London, in late 1910 at the age of thirty-nine, where his work took on a greater conservatism and realism. In London, Long studied under Malcolm Osborne and over the next few years began exhibiting at the Royal Academy. He also began to practise etching which was to become a major focus for the remainder of his career.

A study for The hour of romance (c.1915) reflects the lyrical atmosphere characteristic of Long’s earlier works, but is also representative of the conservative tendencies evident later in his career.

Long was awarded the Wynne Prize in 1938 and 1940. His paintings and prints are held in the collections of the National Gallery of Australia and many state and regional galleries.