Douglas Fry: life and works

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

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 as well as 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.

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In 1899 Douglas Fry came to Australia. He lived in Melbourne for some time, did some paintings of horses, and next went upon to Sydney where he became a aficionada 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 later than the Society of Artists. His reputation was steadily growing behind he died from pneumonia upon 9 July 1911 in Neutral Bay, New South Wales at the in advance age of 39.

Fry was a Eager hunter, described by a contemporary as a “tall, lean, monosyllbic Englishman who had an severely 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 fervent horseman and is said to have taught Norman Lindsay to ride.

Fry was regarded by his contemporaries as the best equine performer in Australia. Interested in the differing characteristics of horses, he made many studies of them before talent 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.

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