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Leonard Lloyd (Len) Annois (1906–1966)

by Ursula Hoff

This article was published:

Leonard Lloyd (Len) Annois (1906-1966), artist, was born on 1 July 1906 at Malvern, Melbourne, son of William Alfred Annois, clerk, and his wife Elsie Miriam, née Lloyd, both Western Australian born. William—whose father had arrived at Fremantle from Portugal in 1864 and set up as a ship-chandler—had moved with his wife to Victoria in 1904. Educated at Melbourne High School, at 17 Len began an engineering career, first with the Melbourne Harbour Trust, next with a civil engineering firm and finally with Malvern City Council. He then became a concrete salesman. On 17 February 1928 at the registrar's office, Collingwood, he married Mavis Martha Nunn who belonged to the Victorian Potters' Group.

Losing his job in the Depression, he attended classes at the National Gallery schools under the directorship of Bernard Hall, with W. B. McInnes as drawing-master. In 1935 Annois found employment with G. J. Coles & Co. Ltd and in 1946 was appointed manager of the new advertising department. Throughout these years he continued painting and exhibiting. Having been introduced to water-colour and taught by James Flett to admire the art of Blamire Young, he painted historical scenes, but, after studying the English water-colour school, turned to landscape. He built a home in sparsely-inhabited North Balwyn in 1938 and chose as his painting-ground the Yarra Valley, as well as the Pentland Hills which he studied on early excursions to Bacchus Marsh.

In 1942-43 Annois worked as a production illustrator with the Directorate of Armoured Fighting Vehicles and the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation Pty Ltd. After the war he joined the council of the Victorian Artists Society and engaged in the production of a new magazine, the Australian Artist. He was a foundation member of the committee which established the National Gallery Society of Victoria. In 1950 he made the first of several journeys abroad. In Italy he studied frescoes and brought his skills to Melbourne where he executed murals in fresco secco in such buildings as the Pharmacy College of Victoria, Parkville, St John's Church of England, Camberwell, and Melbourne High School.

From 1935 Annois had exhibited widely and regularly at the Victorian Artists Society, the New Melbourne Art Club, the Athenaeum gallery and interstate; he held his first one-man show at Tye's Gallery in Bourke Street in 1941. He was elected associate (1952) and member (1958) of the Royal Society of Painters in Watercolour, and in 1960 became president of the National Gallery Society of Victoria. He won awards for his water-colours throughout Australia, among them the Wynne prize (1961 and 1964).

Discarding the popular sunburnt plains and blue distances seen through gum trees, Annois had a fresh perception of the Australian landscape. Characteristic themes in his work are the open, barren hills around Bacchus Marsh, or the border between city and country as he found it in the Yarra Valley from North Balwyn to Templestowe and Heidelberg. The mixture of open country and native bush, interspersed with European trees surrounding the occasional villas, provided the blend of architecture and scenery which he had admired in the towns of Italy and Greece.

A bon vivant, Annois was 6 ft 4 ins (193 cm) tall and weighed seventeen stone (108 kg). He was a gourmet, a cricket fan and a bird-lover. Survived by his wife, son and daughter, he died suddenly at a friend's dinner party at Toorak on 10 July 1966 and was cremated. In 1969 a posthumous exhibition of his water-colours of Central Australia (inspired by a visit made in 1964) was held in Melbourne. Brian Finemore saw in them 'a freedom and breadth of handling, an opulence of colour and a wealth of lyrical intimations' which brought his art to its full flowering. Reviewing the same exhibition, Patrick McCaughey equated Annois's best work with that of the young Fred Williams.

Select Bibliography

  • K. Bonython, Modern Australian Painting and Sculpture (Adel, 1960)
  • B. Finemore, foreword in The Central Australian Landscape. Leonard Annois 1906-1966, exhibition catalogue (Melb, 1969)
  • Len Annois A Retrospective Exhibition, exhibition catalogue (Melb, 1974)
  • N. C. Manning and A. J. Cobcroft, Leonard Lloyd Annois (Melb, 1976)
  • Len Annois, 1950-1960, Water Colours, exhibition catalogue (Melb, 1979)
  • R. Haese, Rebels and Precursors (Melb, 1981)
  • A. Sayers, Drawing in Australia (Canb, 1989)
  • M. Rich, Crouch Prize Winners, exhibition catalogue (Ballarat, Vic, 1990)
  • Age (Melbourne), 10 Feb 1962, 11 July 1966, 2 Apr 1969, 1 Nov 1972
  • Sun News-Pictorial (Melbourne), 11 July 1966
  • Herald (Melbourne), 11 July 1966
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 11 July 1966
  • Annois file (State Library of Victoria)
  • Croll papers (State Library of Victoria).

Related Entries in NCB Sites

Citation details

Ursula Hoff, 'Annois, Leonard Lloyd (Len) (1906–1966)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 1993, accessed online 15 July 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 13, (Melbourne University Press), 1993

View the front pages for Volume 13

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