125 web 1944_45.jpg

Arthur Murch  (1902-1989)
On the Beach 1943
oil on cardboard
25.4 x 28.5 cm
Gift of Howard Hinton 1944


Arthur James Murch was introduced to the Royal Art Society while an apprentice metalworker. After taking classes under Antonio Datillo Rubbo who introduced him to Impressionism, he studied at the East Sydney Technical College (now the National Art School) with sculptor Rayner Hoff. In 1925 a Society of Artists scholarship allowed him to travel to Paris, London and Italy where he fell in love with Renaissance masters.

Returning to Sydney in 1927 Murch worked as a sculptor’s assistant to George Lambert until Lambert’s death in 1930. He then spent time at a coastal cottage in Thirroul where the first paintings in his well-known style emerged. He fused classical and Renaissance subjects, themes and techniques with Australian people, light and landscape.    

Another period in France during the late 1930s further introduced him to modernist techniques including cubism, which had a lasting influence on his career.

In 1942 Murch was appointed an official war artist for World War II but after being discharged for ill health he returned to teach drawing and sculpture at East Sydney Technical College. This small painting, On the Beach, 1943, was completed soon after his return. Murch won the Archibald prize in 1949 with his portrait of fellow artist Bonar Dunlop.