Louis Abrahams (art patron)
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Louis Abrahams (1852 – 2 December 1903) was a British-born Australian tobacconist, art patron, painter and etcher associated with the Heidelberg School art movement, also known as Australian Impressionism.
Born in London, England, Abrahams arrived in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, as an eight-year-old with his family in 1860. Later that decade, Abrahams attended the Artisans School of Design in the Carlton, where he met Frederick McCubbin. The pair formed a close friendship and later enrolled at the National Gallery of Victoria Art School in 1871, where they founded a club to study the nude. McCubbin named his first son Louis after Abrahams, who reciprocated by naming his son Frederick. Both artists, along with fellow National Gallery student Tom Roberts, established the Box Hill artists' camp in 1885. Later accompanied by Arthur Streeton, Charles Conder and others, the group sought to capture the Australian bush by painting it en plein air. By the time the group relocated to Mount Eagle estate (Eaglemont) near Heidelberg in 1888, Abrahams had less time for art due to the demands of the family cigar business. He still made trips to visit his friends at Eaglemont, and supplied them with many cigar-box lids for painting impressions. 183 of these cigar-box paintings were exhibited by Roberts, Streeton and Conder in the landmark 9 by 5 Impression Exhibition of 1889.
Abrahams sat for some of McCubbin's best-known paintings, including Down on His Luck (1889) and A Bush Burial (1890), and he is the subject of portraits by McCubbin, Roberts, Streeton, Julian Ashton, John Mather and others. Due to his financial support of the Australian impressionists, Abrahams, along with his brother and business partner Lawrence, is regarded as an important patron of early Australian art.
Abrahams suffered from depression and committed suicide in his St Kilda home on 2 December 1903. His personal art collection was passed down to his grandson, architect Sir Denys Lasdun, best-known for designing the Royal National Theatre complex on London's South Bank.
- "One of the greatest early patrons of Australian art" (12 December 2017), Christie's. Retrieved 31 July 2018.
- "The Suicide of a City Man" (4 December 1903), The Argus. Retrieved 31 July 2018.
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