10 x 10 cm
Signed and dated
Ink and wash on reverse Courtyard
William Dobell to view verso Courtyard c1945
Provenance: Private collection, Sydney until 2008
Exhibited: Modern Australian Paintings, Bridget McDonnell Gallery, 2019, No. 18
We are grateful to David Hansen for identifying the subject
This is a study for the Portrait of Lyndhurst F. Giblin which was entered in the Archibald Prize in 1946
"The (Archibald) Prize seemed to have bogged down in conventionality after its brief, unintentional flirtation with Dobell. Over 1.700 people visited the gallery during the opening day and more than 2,000 attended on the first Sunday, most of them attracted by the portrait of Professor Giblin, which was hanging next to the winning entry by William Dargie, carrying the formidable title Portrait of Lt.-General Sir Edmund Herring K.B.E., D.S.O., M.C., E.D. He was appointed Lieutenant-Governor of Victoria after a distinguished military career. Paul Haefliger in the Sydney Morning Herald described Dargie’s work as being without design or character which shows not even an attempt to lift itself above the level of timid objectivity. As it hangs meekly beside the impressive Portrait of Professor Giblin by William Dobell it presents the most crushing indictment of the gallery trustees as judges of art and of the system which allows them to remain in their position for the rest of their lives." Refer Portrait of an artist : a biography of William Dobell by Brian Adams, Hutchison, 1983, pages 226-227
Lyndhurst Falkiner Giblin (1872–1951), economist, was one of the great originals of Australian public life of the first half of the twentieth century. Born and dying in Hobart, he hastened between scholarship, physical exploit and public service throughout nation and Empire, without ever truly quitting Tasmania.
The first 45 years of Giblin's life were ardent, dense and entirely distant 'from even the fringes of economic learning'. No remark on economic analysis has been recorded by the King's College scholar (1892), hero of the Klondike gold rushes (1898–1904), Tasmanian Labour MHA (1913–16), or winner of a Military Cross for 'conspicuous gallantry' on the Western Front. It was only in 1918 that there arose in him the technical interest in financial affairs that was to propel his public life thereafter.
In 1920 he became Government Statistician of Tasmania – essentially an official economy advisor. After helping make Tasmania the recognised centre of economic studies in Australia, he became in 1929 Ritchie Professor of Economics at the University of Melbourne, and in 1931 Acting Commonwealth Statistician – effectively the personal economic advisor to the Prime Minister Joseph Lyons. He performed the same service to Robert Menzies between 1939 and 1941. He died at his home in Hobart, working until his last on his one book, The Story of the Commonwealth Bank (1951).
Giblin may be considered the exemplar of the Keynesian movement in economic policy in Australia. His entrée into the Bloomsbury circle initiated his friendship with John Maynard Keynes. Through his rationalism, 'paganism', footloose leftism and intuitive modernism Giblin arrived at the same sort of sharp revaluations of classical economic wisdom that Keynes did. He devised, for example, the Multiplier concept independently of Keynes, and before him.
His memorialists record him as 'shrewd but not cynical', 'fearless... but never aggressive', a man with 'many critics but no enemies', 'a natural leader of men', 'a superb teacher', and 'a fabulous old man', who 'with clear thinking and intellectual honesty' 'almost single handedly founded an Australian political economy'.
Further reading: D Copland (ed), Giblin, Melbourne, 1960; R Wilson, 'L.F. Giblin', Search 7/7; W Coleman & A Hagger, 'An Edinburgh of the south?', THS 8/2, 2003; ADB 8.