Aboriginal man and woman

Born Dungog, New South Wales, Australia 1864, lived England 1895–1915, died Sydney 1937


Benjamin Minns trained in Sydney under the instruction of Lucian Henry, A.J. Daplyn and Julian Ashton, and accompanied his friend Charles Condor on sketching trips. Minns was perhaps best known for his illustrative work for the Sydney Bulletin (on which he held a position from 1887–1937) and the Sydney Mail.

In 1891 his work was included in the annual exhibition of the Art Society, from which the Art Gallery of New South Wales purchased one of his paintings. In 1894 several of his Aboriginal portraits were also acquired. In stark difference to his satirical portrayal of Aborigines in his commercial work, his portrait paintings and drawings have a sensitive and respectful approach.

In 1895 Minns left for England and did not return to Australia until 1915. Overseas he exhibited with the Royal Academy of Art, the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours, London, and the New Salon, Paris. All the while he continued to contribute to the Sydney Bulletin, and the English publications Punch, Strand and Bystander.

In 1920, his romantic views of Sydney positioned him as one of the leading artists of the watercolour medium in Australia. He was vice president of the Royal Art Society and in 1924 was a founder of the Australian Water Colour Institute. His work is represented in the collections of the National Gallery of Victoria, the Art Gallery of New South Wales, the Queensland Art Gallery and the Bendigo, Castlemaine and Newcastle regional galleries.