Antonio Dattilo-Rubbo: 1870-1955

Artist, teacher, mentor

Manly local Antonio Dattilo-Rubbo (1870-1955), was instrumental in establishing both MAG&M and its collection of Australian art.

Dattilo-Rubbo in his Bligh Street Studio

These pages are dedicated to a unique artist and highly respected art teacher who taught and mentored students Grace Cossington Smith, Donald Friend and Roy De Maistre who amongst many others went on to leave their own marks on Australian art.

Not only was Dattilo-Rubbo an inspiring, gifted teacher, he was also instrumental in founding the Manly Art Gallery & Museum. Today, this institution is one of the leading regional art galleries in New South Wales.

Learn about Dattilo-Rubbo's life as an artist, and explore his works that are held in the permanent collection of the Manly Art Gallery & Museum.

His influence as a teacher has been pivotal, as he mentored and encouraged so many of the early Australian modernist artists in Sydney.

To this day, renowned sculptor and art teacher Tom Bass (b. 1916) credits Dattilo-Rubbo with lasting influence. He says: "I regard what I learnt from Rubbo as the fundamentals for me. ... He is my primary teacher. I studied drawing with him, and I am heavily influenced by his teaching principles, in fact, I am teaching the same principles. I even find myself using the same words!"

The Manly Art Gallery & Museum holds over 100 letters, notes and photographs by Antonio Dattilo-Rubbo.

This treasure documents the close involvement of Antonio Dattilo-Rubbo with the Gallery and his enthusiasm for the advancement of the arts particularly in Manly.

The original website was produced in 2010 by the Manly Art Gallery & Museum in celebration of the 80th anniversary of its establishment.


We hold over over 100 letters by and to Antonio Dattilo-Rubbo offering an insight into him and into the Gallery from 1925 to 1940s.


Read a brief overview of the milestones of Antonio Dattilo-Rubbo's life and a summary of his exhibitions.

Life and times

Jean Campbell writes about her mentor - how his enthusiasm for art led to the foundation of the MAG&M and inspiration of a whole generation of ...

Image detail: Rainbow over Sydney Headlands. oil on board


View the list of researchers who contributed to these pages

Students and recollections

Read recollections and stories about his character, teaching methods, and the bond he established between teacher and student.