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

Over the years he had 27 works selected for the Archibald, Sulman and Wynne Prizes. Included here as well is a list of public galleries and museums in Australia that hold his works.


Milestones of Antonio Dattilo-Rubbo's life

1870Antonio Salvatore Dattilo-Rubbo was born on June 22 in Naples, Italy to Luigi-Raffele and Raffaela Dattilo-Rubbo
1888 – 1889Undertakes art studies at the Municipal School of Fine Arts in Rome
1889 – 1891Completes military service
1897Arrives in Sydney in September
1898Opens art school for drawing and painting in Australian Chambers, Rowe Street
1898 – 1919Employed as part-time art master at St. Joseph’s College, Hunters Hill
1898 – 1937Employed as art master at Scots College
1900An advertisement for his art school appears in the Art Society Catalogue
1900Elected as a member of the Council of the Art Society and becomes an instructor in painting at the Art Society, holding the position until 1928
1901 – 1902An advertisement for his art school appears in the Art Society Catalogue, stating fees: £1.1.0 per quarter
1903Obtains British citizenship
1904Marries Mildred Jobson in December
1906 – 1907Travels to London, Paris and Italy
1907 – 1909Conducts weekly art lessons at the Cambridge School on Parramatta River, Hunters Hill. Florence Hooper, a former student, was the principal
1907 – 1910Runs ‘The Atelier’ Art Classes for Ladies and Gentlemen. An advertisement features every year in the Royal Art Society Catalogue
1911 – 1915Lives at North Sydney
1911Son, Sydney Rubbo was born
1912Awarded the James Fairfax Prize for Pencil Drawing
1916Challenges C.E.S. Tindall to a duel regarding the acceptance of ‘Down the Hill to Berry’s Bay’ by Roland Wakelin for the annual Royal Art Society exhibition
1916Moves to Osborne Road, Manly
1917Son, Mark Anthony Rubbo was born
1918Moves to 144 Addison Road, Manly
1919Becomes a member of the War Memorial Advisory Board
1919Speaks at exhibition opening of colour-music paintings by Roy de Maistre and Roland Wakelin at Gayfield Shaw Gallery
1922Became a Fellow of Royal Art Society, as one of the first eight along with artists William Lister Lister, Charles Bryant, J.S. Watkins, Lawson Balfour, James R. Jackson, Sir John Langstaff and Margaret Preston
1924Became a member of the first Committee of Manly Art Gallery with Charles Bryant and was the first to donate a painting to the collection Aboriginal Head
1924Moves to studio in Hudson House, 15 Bligh Street. An advertisement features in the Royal Art Society catalogue
1926 – 1939Conducts weekly art classes at Rose Bay Convent
1927Moves from Manly to 45 Prince Albert Street, Mosman
1928Presented with an Official Royal Art Society Diploma on July 18
1932Made a Knight of the Order of the Crown of Italy, conferring the title of Cavaliere
1933Held an exhibition of students’ works on June 8
1933Son Mark, aged 16, dies of meningitis on September 1
1934Resigned from Royal Art Society and became a member of the Society of Artists
1936Builds a studio adjoining his home in Mosman
1939Gifts a collection of 100 paintings to the Manly Art Gallery, with the condition that room was built to house the works
1940Interned for a short period during the outbreak of World War II, because of the "suspicion of disloyalty, I believe, through my title, and then a donation to an Italian club of one of my works and a monetary contribution towards expenses for furnishing it" ( from a letter to the Secretary of the Manly Art Gallery)
1941Retires from his Art School duties and artist Frances Ellis becomes his replacement. Moves studio to 70 Pitt Street
1942Makes an application to serve as a war artist
1943Wife Mildred dies
1947Commissioned to paint posthumous portrait of Prime Minister John Curtin for Kings Hall at Parliament House in Canberra
1954Made a Life Member of the Society of Artists
1955Dies June 1

A very personal view of Antonio Dattilo-Rubbo is recorded by his grandson, Mike Rubbo, in his blog of 10 March 2008 on

Galleries and museums that hold his works

Antonio Dattilo-Rubbo's work is represented in these public galleries and museums:

  • Manly Art Gallery & Museum, Manly, NSW, holds 130 works.
  • Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney
  • National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
  • National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
  • National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
  • Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide
  • Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth
  • Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane
  • Howard Hinton Collection, Armidale, NSW
  • University Art Museum, University of Queensland, Brisbane
  • Bathurst Regional Art Gallery, NSW
  • Ballarat Regional Art Gallery, VIC
  • Benalla Art Gallery, VIC
  • Albury Regional Gallery, NSW
  • Wollongong City Art Gallery, NSW

Solo and group exhibitions of Dattilo-Rubbo's work

1901Victorian Gold Jubilee, Bendigo
1912James Fairfax Drawing Competition - First Prize awarded
1912-13Salon des Artistes Professionels, Paris
1918Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney
1919Solo exhibition, Decoration Galleries, Melbourne
1919Pictures of the Year, federal exhibition, Adelaide
1923Australian Society of Artists in London
1930International Art Centre of Roerich Museum, New York
1932Sydney Harbour Bridge Celebrations, Australian Painter Etchers' Society
1936Manly Art Gallery
1938150 Anniversary Exhibition, Art Gallery of NSW
1949Solo exhibition, Macquarie Galleries, Sydney; Proceeds of sales donated to Manly Art Gallery
1949Solo exhibition, Moreton Galleries, Brisbane
1950Society of Artists, David Jones Gallery, Sydney
1952Mostre d'Oltremare, Naples
1954Artists by Artists, Art Gallery of NSW, Sydney
1955Posthumous exhibition, organised by the Dante Alighieri Society and the Centro Italiano D'Arte, Bissietta Art Gallery
1974135 Years of Australian Watercolours, Fremantle Arts Centre
1980Retrospective Exhibition Antonio Dattilo-Rubbo, Manly Art Gallery & Museum
1993The Italian Connection, S.H. Ervin Gallery
1995Cav. Antonio Dattilo-Rubbo from the Francis Ellis Collection, Boronia Art Gallery
2002Dattilo-Rubbo Memorial Exhibition, Manly Art Gallery & Museum
2008November: For Limited Release: the Best Paintings from the MAG&M Collection
2009February: Exhibition for the launch of this website, Manly Art Gallery & Museum
2010September: 80 Tales from the Vault: Celebrating the 80th Anniversary of the Manly Art Gallery & Museum

For Limited Release: the Best Paintings from the Manly Art Gallery & Museum Collection

Antonio Dattilo-Rubbo's students included artists Roy de Maistre, Grace Cossington Smith, Margaret Preston, Roland Wakelin and Donald Friend, and masters such as Tom Roberts, Ethel Carrick Fox, Emanuel Phillips Fox, Rah Fizelle, Norman Lindsay, Ralph Balson and Euan McLeod.

Between 1924 and 1951, 27 paintings by Antonio Dattilo-Rubbo were exhibited in the Archibald, Sulman and Wynne Prizes at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. His portraits were shown in 18 Archibald Prizes: in his first submission for 1924 he was represented three times, with a portrait of Mrs G.H. Taubman, a portrait of Nelson Illingworth and a self portrait.

In the Wynne prize for landscape, his works were shown three times (twice for 1944, one for 1946),  and in the Sulman Prize, his genre paintings were exhibited six times (twice in the prizes for 1940, twice in 1944, and in 1946 and 1950).

Dattilo-Rubbo himself was the subject for two other artists' entries to the Archibald Prize: in 1935 Arthur J. Murch's portrait of Dattilo-Rubbo was exhibited, and in 1942 Frances D. Ellis' (his successor in his art school) portrait was shown. 

Exhibitions as Fundraisers

Antonio Dattilo-Rubbo donated generously to causes that were important to him.


The exhibition ‘Art’s Tribute to Red Cross’ was organised by ‘The Coin Catchers’ of the Red Cross Centre in 1943 and reveals that Dattilo-Rubbo was made an honorary life member of the Red Cross after World War I.

He donated 50 works to this fundraiser, along with other artists such as Eric Langker, Alison Rehfisch, Henry Hanke, Tempe Manning, Elaine Haxton, John Allcott and Joshua Smith.

Here is the introduction:


"In presenting ‘Art’s Tribute to Red Cross’, we have only one apology to make and that to those artists whom we may have overlooked in our quest for pictures. The period for organising the exhibition, unfortunately, was all too short and was further curtailed by our being workaday people. Therefore, the absence of any artists from the list of exhibitors should not be taken to imply any more than the lack of opportunity to assist Red Cross.

We feel that our choice of title, ‘Art’s Tribute to Red Cross’ has been more than justified, for the response, both in numbers and quality of works donated, has been truly magnificent. It was indeed fortunate that a splendid nucleus should have been formed through the extreme generosity of Cav. A. Dattilo-Rubbo, who gave to our exhibition the balance of his life’s work. It was a gesture typical of one who, for his Red Cross efforts during World War I, was elected a Life Member of the Australian Red Cross Society.

The pictures donated were not subjected to the judgment of a Selection Committee, for it was felt that those whose love for their art was exceeded only by their love for their fellowmen would give to Red Cross works that were both representative and worthy. The exhibits bear testimony to the measure in which that confidence has been upheld."