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Francis Ennis (Guy) Lynch (1895–1967)

by Peter Kirkpatrick

This article was published:

Francis Ennis Lynch ('GUY') (1895-1967), sculptor, was born on 23 September 1895 at North Carlton, Melbourne, son of Joseph Patrick Lynch, mason, and his wife Annie, née Connor, both Victorian born. Frank was educated at Christian Brothers' College, East Melbourne, before the family moved to Auckland, New Zealand. Giving his occupation as plasterer, Lynch enlisted in the New Zealand Expeditionary Force on 17 April 1915 and was allocated to the artillery. He fought at Gallipoli that year. In France from April 1916, he was posted to the New Zealand Divisional Signal Company, awarded the Military Medal (July 1917) 'for acts of gallantry in the field' and promoted sergeant. On 28 December 1918 Lynch married Doris Louise Hannen in the parish church at Stevenage, Hertfordshire, England. She died in childbirth in October 1919; their son predeceased him.

Discharged in New Zealand on 26 February 1920, Lynch received commissions to sculpt war memorials in Wellington and at Devonport, Auckland. In 1922 George Finey persuaded him to come to Sydney where he entered the bohemian community 'for ever bawling in honour of Michelangelo'. On one drunken evening the damp clay of a commissioned bust of Sir Joynton Smith provided material for a studio mud-fight. 'Guy', as Frank was known, studied under Rayner Hoff, and exhibited works such as 'Australian Venus' and 'The Digger'. 'The Satyr', shown at the Society of Artists' younger group exhibition in 1924, created a sensation, being hailed as a masterpiece and damned as 'a pagan work'. It was bought for the National Art Gallery of New South Wales. That year Lynch was commissioned by Dame Nellie Melba to make a bust of her grand-daughter Pamela and a garden sculpture, 'Victory of Orpheus'. He later created the figures for the battle diorama, 'Pozières', at the Australian War Memorial, Canberra. At St Francis's Catholic Church, Paddington, on 27 April 1927 Lynch married Marjorie Cush, a 27-year-old secretary.

'The Satyr' had been modelled on Frank's younger brother Joseph Young Lynch (1897-1927), a black-and-white artist. Joe had worked with the British Red Cross Society in London and France in World War I. He abandoned study at the Elam School of Arts & Design, Auckland, and developed his drawing by sketching street-life alongside his friend C. J. ('Unk') White. Arriving in Sydney with his brother, Joe established himself as a freelance cartoonist and by 1925 was drawing for Melbourne Punch, where he met Kenneth Slessor. In 1926 he was back in Sydney as the youngest member of the Smith's Weekly art staff. On 14 May 1927, while drunk, Joe threw himself off a Mosman-bound ferry near Fort Denison, fought off a would-be rescuer and drowned; his body was never recovered. Joe's unruly life and tragic death inspired Slessor's elegy, 'Five Bells'.

Guy 'went to pieces' after Joe's death. In 1929, however, he studied in London at the Royal College of Art, under Benjamin Clemens. At the Royal Academy of Arts he exhibited a bust of the writer Beverley Nichols in 1931, and one of Sir Isaac Isaacs in 1938 (purchased by the Commonwealth government in 1945). He also visited Paris and completed a bust of Lieutenant General Baron Birdwood before returning to Sydney in November 1938.

In 1941 Lynch completed a commission to depict Aboriginal life for one of the bronze panels on the west doors of the Public Library of New South Wales. Mobilized in the Militia in October, he performed clerical duties in Australia until discharged for reasons of age and fitness in October 1944. He was a member of the Royal Art Society of New South Wales. Suffering from arthritis and arteriosclerosis, by 1950 he had retired to a poultry-farm at Buxton, near Picton. In 1959 he joined the Gallipoli Legion of ANZACS Club.

To his second wife, Guy was 'a very direct and honest man', though White found him dogmatic, especially in matters of art. Jack Lindsay described Lynch as having 'an Irish-Australian face, rough and tough and of the wildwood, yet sensitive'. As a sculptor he was 'practically self-taught'. Joe was 'a looser and wilder version' of his brother. Survived by his wife, Guy Lynch died on 13 May 1967 at Picton and was cremated. In 1977 his widow paid for 'The Satyr' to be cast in bronze. Placed in the Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney, it is a memorial to the unfulfilled promise of both brothers.

Select Bibliography

  • K. Slessor, Bread and Wine (Syd, 1970)
  • D. Stewart, A Man of Sydney (Melb, 1977)
  • K. Scarlett, Australian Sculptors (Melb, 1980)
  • J. Lindsay, Life Rarely Tells (Melb, 1982)
  • Daily Telegraph Sunday Pictorial, 15 May 1927
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 24 July 1924, 15 Nov 1938, 30 June 1977
  • E. Muspratt, manuscript biography of Unk White, in Frank Johnson papers (State Library of New South Wales)
  • private information.

Citation details

Peter Kirkpatrick, 'Lynch, Francis Ennis (Guy) (1895–1967)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University,, published first in hardcopy 2000, accessed online 19 April 2024.

This article was published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 15, (Melbourne University Press), 2000

View the front pages for Volume 15

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