Fred Leist

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Fred Leist seated in the back at the right in this group portrait of Australian official war artists, 1916–1918 by George Coates, 1920. Oil on canvas, 124.2 x 104.5 cm. The painting presents, left to right: front — George Bell; standing — John Longstaff, Charles Bryant, George Washington Lambert, A. Henry Fullwood, James Quinn, H. Septimus Power, Arthur Streeton; and seated back — Will Dyson, Fred Leist.

Frederick William Leist (21 August 1873 – 18 February 1945) was an Australian artist. During the First World War, he was an official war artist with Australian forces in Europe.[1]

Early life[edit]

Leist studied at the Sydney Art School studying under Julian Ashton,[2] from whom he learned plein air techniques.[1]

In the 1890s, he began working as a black-and-white artist for The Bulletin and The Sydney Mail newspapers.[3] After 1900, he also the Sydney representative for the Graphic magazine of London.[1] Leist's illustrations also were included in books such as the 1902 Commonwealth Annual.[4]

In 1917, Leist was appointed as an official war artist to serve with the Australian Imperial Force in France.[5]

Leist completed numerous paintings during the war and after his war service contributed two large murals for the Australian Exhibition at the British Empire Exhibition held at Wembley in 1924.[2] As a result of these works Leist popularity increased and he gained several commissions from the United States and toured the south west of America, including Texas, New Mexico and Arizona.[2]

Returning to Australia in 1926, Leist took up a position as the Head of Painting at the East Sydney Technical College.[2]

Leist died at Mosman, Sydney in February 1945, regarded as one of Australia's foremost portrait artists.[6] He was survived by his wife Ada and a married daughter.[7]

Leist is represented in the Art Gallery of New South Wales with ten works as well a representations in several private collections. Many of his paintings as a war artist are in the collection of the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. Some of his portraits are in Parliament House, Canberra.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Rutledge, Martha. (1986). "Leist, Frederick William (Fred) (1873–1945)," Australian Dictionary of Biography Online.
  2. ^ a b c d Reid, John B. (1977). Australian Artists at War, Vol. 1, pp. 14–15.
  3. ^ "A length in the lead!". The Sydney Mail And New South Wales Advertiser. LXIX, (2082). New South Wales, Australia. 2 June 1900. p. 1283. Retrieved 25 June 2018 – via National Library of Australia.
  4. ^ "A Modern Tiresias". The Evening News (Sydney) (11, 043). New South Wales, Australia. 1 November 1902. p. 7. Retrieved 25 June 2018 – via National Library of Australia.
  5. ^ Australian War Memorial (AWM), First World War, official artists
  6. ^ "Death Of Leading Portrait Painter". The Advertiser (Adelaide). LXXXVII, (26951). South Australia. 19 February 1945. p. 4. Retrieved 25 June 2018 – via National Library of Australia.
  7. ^ "OBITUARY MR. F. W. LEIST". The Sydney Morning Herald (33, 434). New South Wales, Australia. 19 February 1945. p. 4. Retrieved 25 June 2018 – via National Library of Australia.

Further reading[edit]