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Sir William Ashton, Norfolk Windmill, Oil on Canvas

William Ashton (1881-1963)


Oil on canvas on board, signed lower left: WILL ASHTON

Sir John William "Will" Ashton OBE, ROI  was a British-Australian artist.

He was born on 20 September 1881 in Clifton, York, England, the son of James Ashton, an artist. The Ashtons migrated to Adelaide, South Australia and Will was educated at Prince Alfred College from 1889-1897. Upon graduating Ashton entered the life of an artist. In 1900 he left for England and spent 1902-1903 at the Académie Julian in Paris.

Ashton had some of his works accepted by the Royal Academy of Arts, London, and the Salon de la Société des Artistes Français. He returned to Adelaide in 1905. After holding exhibitions in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide, in 1908 he won the Wynne Prize for landscape.

In 1912-14 he painted in Britain, Europe and Egypt. He then returned to Australia for a year and then returned to London with his family from 1915 to 1917. The impressionist oil paintings from his overseas trips sold well on his return to Australia. He was a member of the Royal Drawing Society. He won the Godfrey Rivers Bequest prize in 1933 and 1938 and the Wynne Prize for a second and third time in 1930 and 1939.


In 1937 Ashton became Director of the National Art Gallery of New South Wales. From 1944-1947 he was also Director of David Jones Art Gallery. A member of the Commonwealth Art Advisory Board from 1918, Ashton was chairman in 1953-1962. He was a member of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters, a Vice-President of the Australian Painter-Etchers' Society, and a member of the Society of Artists in Sydney, being awarded its medal in 1944.

He was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire on 1 January 1941 and was made a Knight Bachelor on 11 June 1960 for his service as Chairman of the Commonwealth Art Advisory Board.

Ashton died at his Mosman home on 1 September 1963.


Width 17.5 inches, Height 14.5 inches.



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