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 Izett Watson  (1858 - )

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Lived/Active: Australia      Known for: painting

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Ad Code: 4
AskART Artist
from Auction House Records.
"Lighting up" -- newspaper boys in an alley off Collins Street
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Andrew Izett Watson, who used the name Izett Watson, was born 2 Aug 1858 in Castlemaine, Victoria, Australia, the son of Robert Chisholm Watson and Margarette Izett. His mother came to Australia from Scotland with her family in 1850 as assisted immigrants; his father, Robert, was English, and it is unclear when he came to Australia.  His parents married in August of 1857 (announcement in the Melbourne paper, The Argus).  Andrew Izett was their first son, one of the first artists to study at the new Melbourne National Gallery School in the early 1870’s.  In June of 1878, Watson won honors for his design in crayon at the Australia Juvenile Industrial Exhibition (The Argus, 29 June 1878).  His oil painting, "Zingara," is on the Official Record for the Victorian Works of Art, 1880-81 Melbourne International Exhibition, Prahran School.

In 1883, Watson was a founding member of the Buonarotti Club, a group of young writers, artists, and musicians who would gather for conversation and to share their work.  Many famous Australia artists participated in the club, which was active until 1887, including Elizabeth Parsons, John Longstaff, John Mather, E. Phillips Fox, Tom Roberts, Walter Withers, Fred McCubbin and Alex Sutherland.  In 1884, Watson was a the director at the Prahran School of Art in Melbourne, where, according to an article in the Melbourne newspaper,  The Argus, students learned to draw “from the round,” rather than “from flat and from copies.”  A catalogue of the Ballarat Fine Art Exhibition from 1884 lists a Watson oil painting, The Brook, priced at 15 pounds.  Another, Roses, is priced at 5 pounds, 10 shillings.  In 1886, he painted Lighting Up, Newspaper Boys in an Alley off Collins Street.

In 1888, he married a Marie Joachimi, actually, the wife of the German immigrant and Public Works Department architect, Gustav Joachimi.  Marie (nee Mary Elizabeth Purser Padley) had left Joachimi and their four children in about 1870 and had four children with piano tuner George Lucas Mitchell-Mansfield, only one of whom lived past infancy.  In 1895, Watson and “Marie” had twin sons (Norman and Donizetti, the latter of whom died in infancy).  A daughter, Beryl, was born in 1896.  They may have had or adopted other children.  It is unclear whether they lived together when Marie died in New South Wales in 1914.

In 1890, Watson painted Paper boys in the Back Lane Off Collins Street, Melbourne and a portrait of Elizabeth Helene Joachim (the wife of Victorian photographer John Duncan Pearce), his wife’s daughter from her first marriage.  A portrait of Marie, which was subsequently damaged beyond repair, may have been painted around this time as well. However, Watson is best known for his partnership with American artist Thaddeus Welch, who in 1889 enlisted his aid in painting a 1000 square-foot cyclorama commemorating the historical miners’ strike at Eureka Stockade, displayed at Victoria Parade, Melbourne, in 1891.  Welch and Watson spent time in Ballarat at the site of the event to study the landscape for their work.

In 1898, Watson arranged an exhibit of drawings for the Art Union in New Zealand.  In 1919, a painting of his called Hereafter was announced in The Advertiser (19 June 1919) as on exhibit in Adelaide, South Australia.  There is a photograph of one of his drawings in the State Library of South Australia, Yorketown, dated 1920, and the National Archives of Australia holds two librettos he wrote, King Gold and An Eastern Siren, both registered for a copyright in July of 1920.  He lived in Adelaide at the time at 10 Fifth Ave, St. Peter's. According to the 1924 Australian Electoral Rolls, Watson was living in Melbourne, in the Fawkner area, from 1924-1937 and was probably teaching art, as his profession is given as “teacher.”  In 1937, he would have been 79 years old.  He lived with a Mabel Beatrice, who may have been a daughter or a wife.  It is unknown when he died or where he is buried.

 Information provided by Valerie M. Balester, Executive Director, University Writing Center, Associate Professor of English, Texas A&M University.

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