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Loureiro, Artur Jose (1853–1932)

by Suzanne G. Mellor

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 5, (MUP), 1974

Artur Jose Loureiro (1853-1932), painter, was born on 11 February 1853 at Oporto, Portugal, son of Francisco José de Souza Loureiro and his wife Guilhermina. He studied painting at the Fine Arts Academy of Oporto and in 1873 competed for a state scholarship for study abroad. Though the committee was impressed he withdrew. In 1875 he sat for entrance to the Academy of Fine Arts in Lisbon where his talent was recognized by Count d'Almedina, under whose patronage Loureiro studied for two years at the academy and distinguished himself. He returned to Lisbon in 1879 and won the Portuguese government's art scholarship, given every five years to assist artists to study abroad. Living in the Latin quarter of Paris and studying at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts under Alexandre Cabanel (1823-1889), he exhibited at the salon in 1880, 1881 and 1882. He also met Marie Huybers, the sister of Jessie Couvreur, and despite the rules of his scholarship he married her; they had one son and one daughter. Illness prevented him from submitting the annual painting to the Lisbon Art Gallery and he lost the scholarship. He travelled to London where he exhibited and attracted attention from critics, but a warmer climate became essential. In 1884 he went to Melbourne, arriving as an almost helpless invalid. He was fluent in Italian and French but had little English.

The Victorian Academy of Art was early controlled by amateurs, but in 1885 after the return of Tom Roberts a group of professional artists broke with the academy and formed the Australian Art Association; Loureiro with eight others were members. They held three exhibitions at the Buxton Gallery and successful smoke nights before amalgamating with the academy in 1888 to form the Victorian Artists' Society. Loureiro's portrait of James Cooper Stewart, mayor of Melbourne (1885-86), had been exhibited and bought for £200 by public subscription; according to the Bulletin, 19 March 1887, it was 'one of the best portraits ever painted in Australia'. For most of his time in Melbourne, Loureiro was 'Professor of Design' at the Presbyterian Ladies' College, constantly painted, sold pictures to wealthy Melbourne patrons and was said to have won prizes in all the exhibitions to which he submitted entries.

In 1899 Loureiro won a gold medal at London and in 1900 a third-class medal in Paris. His work was known for its broad, free handling and fresh out-of-doors feeling. In 1901 he returned to Oporto, set up a teaching studio and exhibited landscapes and seascapes of 'unexcelled technical perfection'. Some of his work was shown in 1920 at the National Society of Fine Arts Gallery and in 1923 at a commemorative exhibition on his artistic jubilee. In 1929 a collection of his best works was exhibited at the Salon of Silva Porto and the Uffizi Gallery acquired a self-portrait. In April 1932 his colleagues, friends and admirers honoured him and he became a member of the Order of Santiago. Attracted by its beautiful landscapes, he went to Gerez, but he died suddenly on 7 July at Terras de Bouro. His paintings hang in Lisbon, Porto, Melbourne and Bendigo galleries. He was predeceased by his first wife and his only son Vasco was killed in World War I. Loureiro was survived by his second wife Eliza Fernanda de Sousa Pires (b.1896) whom he had married on 19 June 1918.

Select Bibliography

  • Grande Enciclopédia Portuguesa e Brasileira (Lisbon, 1936-1960)
  • B. Smith, Australian Painting 1788-1960 (Melb, 1962)
  • Table Talk, 19 Oct 1888
  • McCrae family papers (State Library of Victoria).

Citation details

Suzanne G. Mellor, 'Loureiro, Artur Jose (1853–1932)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/loureiro-artur-jose-4041/text6425, published first in hardcopy 1974, accessed online 21 November 2017.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 5, (MUP), 1974

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