Heritage Guide to The Geelong College

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WHEELER, Charles Arthur DCM OBE (1880-1977)

WHEELER, Charles Arthur, DCM OBE (1880-1977)

Charles Wheeler, artist, created the portraits in oils of Rev Francis W Rolland and Stanley B Hamilton-Calvert which hang in the Senior School Dining Hall.

Born in Dunedin, New Zealand to parents John Edward Wheeler and Victoria Julia nee Francis, emigrants from England, Charles Wheeler became a fine portraitist and landscape painter and was at his greatest popularity not long before the College portraits were done. His mother, with her young family had moved to Williamstown, Victoria in about 1891 after her husband John’s early death. Charles was apprenticed in 1895 to C Troedel & Co to learn lithography. Several years later in 1898 he commenced drawing classes at the National Gallery School but it was not until about 1910 that he held his first individual exhibition, although he had previously displayed works with the Victorian Artists society.

In 1912, he travelled overseas painting and exhibiting, particularly in France. He served in 22 Battalion, Royal Fusiliers during World War I receiving the Distinguished Conduct Medal in 1916. Following the war, he remained in England, travelling, painting and exhibiting at the Royal Academy of Arts in London. His return to Australia saw his popularity soar, winning the New South Wales Art Quest Prize in 1929, and the Archibald Prize in 1933. He was awarded an OBE in 1951.

His work is held in the Victorian State Gallery; National War Memorial, Canberra; and the University of Melbourne.

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