Robert Douglas Fry[1] (September 1872 – 9 July 1911) was an English Australian painter and illustrator, known for his paintings of animals, and especially horses.

Robert Fry's A dappled grey horse in a stable, 1895, watercolour.


Douglas Fry was born at Ipswich, Suffolk, England, son of Edward Fry, a corn and seed merchant, and his wife Annette née Ransome. His brother, Edward Ransome Fry, was also an artist, and his sister Constance Emily Fry married John Barlow Wood (1862-1949) a watercolour landscape artist.

Douglas was educated at Ipswich Grammar School. Later he studied art at the Académie Julian in Paris, and in London where he did some illustrative work.[2]

In 1899 Douglas Fry came to Australia. He lived in Melbourne for some time, did some paintings of horses, and then went on to Sydney where he became a member of the Society of Artists. In 1908 his "Mountain King" was purchased for the Art Gallery of New South Wales. He did illustrative work for The Lone Hand and was a frequent exhibitor with the Society of Artists. His reputation was steadily growing when he died from pneumonia on 9 July 1911 in Neutral Bay, New South Wales[3] at the early age of 39.[4]

My best friend, 1910, oil on wood.

Fry was a keen hunter, described by a contemporary as a "tall, lean, monosyllbic Englishman who had an intensely conservative mind and a pronounced Oxford accent, and looked as if he had been poured into his riding pants and boots (which he always wore)". He was a keen horseman and is said to have taught Norman Lindsay to ride.[5]

Fry was regarded by his contemporaries as the best equine artist in Australia.[4][6] Interested in the differing characteristics of horses, he made many studies of them before finishing each work. He was an excellent draughtsman and as a painter endeavoured to paint the thing exactly as he saw it, with a high degree of finish.[2]

Notes and referencesEdit

  1. ^ Known variously as "Robert Fry", "Robert Douglas Fry", "R. Douglas Fry", "Douglas Robert Fry".
  2. ^ a b Serle, Percival, ed. (1949). Dictionary of Australian Biography. Angus and Robertson.
  3. ^ "Family Notices". Sydney Morning Herald. NSW. 9 July 1912. p. 8. Retrieved 13 May 2014.
  4. ^ a b "DEATH OF DOUGLAS FRY". The Sydney Stock and Station Journal (1896 - 1924). NSW. 11 July 1911. p. 4. Retrieved 13 May 2014.
  5. ^ Miller, Steven (2012). Dogs in Australian Art. Wakefield Press. p. 150. ISBN 9781743050170.
  6. ^ "SOME SOCIETY OF ARTISTS PICTURES". Freeman's Journal (Sydney, NSW : 1850 - 1932). 29 October 1908. p. 27. Retrieved 13 May 2014.

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