Works by Folingsby included in this catalogue
Folingsby (G.) Bunyan in prison 1864 {1864} NGV [PA]
Folingsby (G.) Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn {1879} NGV [PA]
Folingsby (G.) William Saurin Lyster 1883 {1883} SLV [PA]
Folingsby (G.) James Service 1886 {1886} SLV [PA]
Folingsby (G.) Sir Charles Sladen 1884 {1884} SLV [PA]
Folingsby (G.) Oil studies {1891} NGV/Loc? [PA]

Pre-Felton works bought on Folingsby’s advice
Halswelle Welcome Shade 1884 {1888} NGV [PA]
Halswelle Heart of the Coolins 1886 {1888} NGV [PA]

Folingsby, born in Ireland, studied art in New York and then Munich, where he worked under Karl von Piloty (1826-86), and then settled for some years, establishing an independent practice as a history and portrait painter.

In 1879, he migrated to Melbourne, and in 1882 he was appointed NGV Director and Master of the Art School, positions he held until his death. He also advised occasionally on purchases of works by other artists, for instance the Halswelle paintings noted above.

As an artist and art teacher, Folingsby favoured the Munich style in which he was trained, in a somewhat pedestrian version (leading to criticism by several contemporaries and recent writers such as John McDonald). Leigh Astbury, however, argues for his significance in training a number of the significant Australian painters of the next generation, including McCubbin, Longstaff, Bunny and others.

After his death, a number of his oil studies were acquired for the NGV collection (see entry noted above), along with landscape studies by his German-born wife Clara (c.1839-c.1873): see Folingsby (C.) Oil studies {1891} NGV/Loc? [PA].

See also Longstaff Portrait of G.F.Folingsby {1891} SLV [PA].


See (biography by Ruth Zubans, published in ADB vol.4, 1972); and Cox NGV (1970): refer index. See also Bénézit 5, p.837 and AKL 42 (2004), pp.4-5 (both mentioning his major works in the NGV)

John McDonald, Art of Australia, vol.1 (2008), pp.319ff., develops a highly critical account of Folingsby’s period in charge of the School of Art, reproducing comparable works by Longstaff and McCubbin (pp.328-29); however, for a more measured and detailed interpretation of Folingsby’s achievement as both artist and teacher, see Leigh Astbury, City Bushmen (1985), pp.26ff., with further relevant examples. For Folingsby’s period as NGV director and head of the art school, see also Cox NGV (1970), pp.44-465