Folingsby, George Frederick (1828-91; Irish/Australian)
Oil studies, various sizes
Purchased, 1891
National Gallery of Victoria (p.392.1-1 etc.); others unidentified, collection unknown

[reproduced at right: Study of a man’s head (p.395.15-1)]

The NGV’s annual report for 1891 notes the acquisition of 83 oil studies from Folingsby’s estate, 56 of which are extant in the NGV (for details, and reproductions of most of them, see the gallery’s online catalogue). Others, lent to various schools and regional galleries in the earlier 20th century, may still be located elsewhere.

Leigh Astbury, evaluating Folingsby’s period as  master of the Melbourne art school (1882-91), reproduces a number of these oil sketches, emphasising their fluency and variety, especially in figure painting, and also noting several landscape sketches painted en plein air. His Melbourne students clearly benefited from such qualities, Astbury maintains, comparing examples by Aby Altson, Phillips Fox, Longstaff, McCubbin and others.

These works were acquired together with a set of landscape studies by Folingsby’s wife Clara: see Folingsby (C.) Oil studies {1891} NGV/Loc? [PA]. One of the studies originally acquired as by G.F.Folingsby has now also been reassigned to his wife: see Untitled (Landscape: white flowering trees and pine trees) (NGV p.395.81-1).

None of these studies was listed in the NGV catalogues published in 1894 and 1905, possibly suggesting that they were regarded primarily as art school resources.


AR 1891, p.24 (“83 studies in oils”); not listed in either NGV 1894 or NGV 1905 

For the work reassigned to Clara Folingsby, see For the subsequent loan of some examples by both G.F.Folingsby and his wife, see e.g. 1929 SLV/NGV Annual Report, pp.15-18. For an interesting discussion of Folingsby’s sketches in relation to his teaching, see Astbury City Bushmen (1985), pp.26ff.