Tony Rafty

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Tony Rafty
Rafty in 1944, during his service with the Australian Army as an official war artist
Born Anthony Raftopoulos
(1915-10-12)12 October 1915
Paddington, New South Wales, Australia
Died 9 October 2015(2015-10-09) (aged 99)
Sydney, NSW, Australia
Nationality Australian
Style Caricature
Spouse(s) Shirley Morey (m. 1946; w. 2012)

Tony Rafty OAM (born Anthony Raftopoulos; 12 October 1915 – 9 October 2015) was a Greek-Australian artist. He specialised in drawing caricatures.


Rafty was born in Paddington, New South Wales into a family of Greek origin. As a boy he first started drawing caricatures whilst caddying during the Depression.[1]

During World War II, Rafty served as a war artist and journalist for the Australian Army, serving in New Guinea, Borneo and Singapore. He sketched the surrender of the Japanese in Singapore, and covered the release of POWs from prison camps, including Batu Lintang camp in Kuching, Sarawak. He completed many sketches of war action including a memorable one of Lord Louis Mountbatten. A few years later he covered the Indonesian War of Independence, and befriended President Sukarno of Indonesia.[2][3] His considerable number of works from that era are housed in the National Library and the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, with others held at the Imperial War Museum in London.[4]

Rafty caricatured politicians, sportspeople, and entertainers. He sketched sportsmen and women at every Olympic Games from 1948 (in London) to 1996 (in Atlanta).[5] His work has been exhibited worldwide and over 15,000 of his caricatures have been featured in newspapers and magazines. In 1981 Rafty became the world’s first caricaturist to have subjects appear on national stamps, with caricatures of sportsmen Victor Trumper [1], Walter Lindrum [2], Sir Norman Brookes [3] and Darby Munro [4] appearing on stamps issued by Australian Post. He also provided courtroom sketches for news bulletins on the Seven Network.[6]

Tony Rafty (right, in rickshaw) in Kuching, Sarawak, on 12 September 1945, the day after its liberation by Australian armed forces.

Rafty was one of the founding members of the Australian Black and White Artists Club and served as its President; for 23 years he was on the Board of Directors of the Sydney Journalists Club, where he also held the position of President; he also served the Australian War Correspondents’ Association, and for many years, led the Australian War Correspondents Society veterans at the Anzac Day march.

In 1985, Rafty was awarded the Gold Cross of Mount Athos, one of Greece’s highest honours, and in 1991 he was awarded the Order of Australia Medal for services to the media. Sir William Dargie, an Australian artist, eight-time winner of the Archibald Prize, and war artist with Rafty in World War II commented: “Tony Rafty is simply splendid. He not only brings an intellectual quality to his work, but he does it so well within a social context that he creates subjects which have a life of their own.”

Personal life[edit]

Rafty was married to Shirley Morey for 66 years, the daughter of the New South Wales Labor politician Tom Morey. Shirley died in 2012. They had five children.[7]

In 2005 Rafty celebrated his 90th birthday.[2] He died in an Eastern Suburbs hospital in Sydney, NSW from complications of pneumonia, three days before his 100th birthday.[8]

Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ Andrew Rafty & Harriet Veitch (1 January 2016). "Rafty loved people and he drew what he saw in them". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 3 January 2016. 
  2. ^ a b Malcolm Brown (25 April 2006). "Caricaturist whose story began at the frontline". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 10 June 2014. 
  3. ^ Tom Allard (20 November 2010). "Australian recalls drawing of Indonesia's battle lines". The Age. Retrieved 10 June 2014. 
  4. ^ Imperial War Museum. "Works by Tony Rafty". IWM Collections Search. Retrieved 8 March 2013. 
  5. ^ Hugh Holt (16 November 2010). "Tony Rafty OAM:Witness to Indonesia's war of independence". The Jakarta Post. Retrieved 10 June 2014. 
  6. ^ Tingle, Greg. "Tony Rafty: Caricaturist and Australian National Treasure". Media Man. Retrieved 10 October 2015. 
  7. ^ "Shirley Rafty death notice". The Sydney Morning Herald. 7 September 2012. Retrieved 10 October 2015. 
  8. ^ Masters, Roy (10 October 2015). "Sketcher of the stars Tony Rafty dies days before his 100th birthday".