State Library Victoria > La Trobe Journal

No 86 December 2010


Benjamin Thomas
Purveyor of Taste: W. R. Sedon and Melbourne's Sedon Galleries

Two men of the Australian art world: Sydney artist James R. Jackson and Melbourne gallery owner W. R. Sedon photographed in Melbourne in 1956. Letters & snapshots by J. R. Jackson, Sedon Gallery Papers, PA 01/134.

IN MELBOURNE'S THRIVING and often hotly contested inter-war art world, art dealer William Richard Sedon 'held sway in no uncertain manner'. In 1959, artist and art critic for the Age, Arnold Shore, expressed it simply and matter-of-factly: 'Australian artists, young and old, either submitted to his dictates or took their work elsewhere'.1 Shore wrote from experience. Outside the odd inclusion of his work in fundraising exhibitions, he never exhibited at the Sedon Galleries. He was what fellow artist and Table Talk's art critic Percy Leason disparagingly called 'a modern'.2

'Mr. Sedon's expert knowledge of his work is really inherited, as his ancestors on both sides were wellknown collectors of works of art', Biographical Data and Photograph of William Richard Sedon, released by International Press Service Association of Australia, compilers and publishers Who's Who in Australia, nd.

From its establishment in October 1925 until it closed its doors at the end of 1959, the Sedon Galleries managed by W. R. Sedon remained a bastion of traditional values in Australian art, a powerful commercial presence that significantly influenced Melbourne's art patronage through the artists he represented and the exhibitions the Galleries held. Many collectors, 'notably among professional classes, believed implicitly in his art knowledge and opinions',3 while his often commercially successful exhibitions prompted Lionel Lindsay to praise him as 'the Ace of Australian Art Dealers'.4
For a figure whose contemporary reputation illustrates what influence he held throughout his career, it is surprising to find so little written about Sedon. Past focus has concentrated primarily on the artists themselves, the state institutions that acquired their work, and, to a lesser degree, the collectors whose patronage supported them. But behind the familiar names of artists and their works, the dealer played a crucial role in moulding public tastes and artistic patronage through his promotion of artists, or his refusal to exhibit others. As one writer noted in 1932, in order for any budding artist to gain recognition, exhibition was essential. 'For two years he has to scrape and save and starve in order to get together a group of pictures. He then has to negotiate with those mandarins of art, the picture dealers.'5

William Richard Sedon

William Richard Sedon was born out of wedlock in Adelaide on 20 June 1876, the only child of twenty-five year old English-born Thomas Sedon and his twenty year old lover, Jane Franklin Kyle.6 Their reasons for being in South Australia are unknown, and their stay there short-lived. After eleven months they returned to Melbourne where the young couple were married at the Kyle family's city residence in South Yarra on 21 February 1878.7

'Please do not take the caricature too seriously', Sedon implored F. J. McKenna, secretary of the Prime Minister's Department, when the Bulletin published this illustration of him in 1947 (29 October, p. 20).

With connections to Creswick in central Victoria, Thomas Sedon soon returned with his family to the booming mining town and secured work as a mine manager, first with the Shamrock Gold Mining Company before launching the Sunny South Gold Mining Company in May 1890.8 It may have been at Creswick that young William was introduced to art through his friendships with the older sons of the local doctor, later artists Lionel and Norman Lindsay. If so, their boyhood friendships would span more than half a century, with Sedon later actively exhibiting the works of both brothers and acting as their Victorian agent. Perhaps he was still at Creswick in 1893 when Walter Withers held outdoor painting classes. Who's Who in Australia in 1935, noted that Sedon had 'been associated with Art work since 1896, both in local productions and in the indenting of Art objects from overseas'.9 Yet if he had held any serious inclinations towards pursuing a career as a practising artist it might be reasonable to assume that he would have enrolled in the National Gallery School in Melbourne or even exhibited his efforts with the Victorian Artists' Society. There is no record, however, that he did either.
Indeed, Sedon's life before the opening of his Galleries in the mid 1920s remains shrouded in relative obscurity, penetrable only by the occasional glimpse through the historical record. He was privately schooled in Melbourne and was a keen sportsman who enjoyed motoring, swimming and rowing with the dominant Albert Park Club until a foot injury prevented him continuing. The same injury meant he was barred from service during the First World War.10 He was an avid attendee at the theatre, a passion he later passed to his alleged nephew11 and partner in the business, and from young adulthood until he was too unwell to attend, was noted as a 'regular first-nighter' at Her Majesty's Theatre.12 By 1898, he was probably living with his mother at 88 Belgravia Street in Richmond though there is no mention of his father, who only the year before had been living in nearby Bendigo Street.
In 1903, while legal manager for the Graham Berry Mining Company, Thomas Sedon was arrested on a charge of allegedly forging mining scrips in collaboration with Joseph Mellon.13 When sentenced, the ruling judge distinguished between the two men 'because he thought Sedon had been the principal, and had supplied the brains and money'.14 Moreover, although the accusations remained unproved, it was suggested that Sedon was also behind 'at least two of the largest scrip forgeries which have taken place in Australia in recent years'.15 Sentenced to three years imprisonment, he was admitted to Melbourne Goal in mid June 1903. With his name and reputation tarnished, it is possible that when Thomas Sedon was released just over two years later he did so under a newly assumed identity, walking through the gates of Melbourne Goal on 12 October 1905 and out of the lives of his wife and son.16
Thomas Sedon's conviction impacted heavily on his family. If there was any strength to later writers' claims that W. R. Sedon had already been engaged with art for several years, the financial burden caused by his father's conviction forced him to look to more sustainable means of income. At twenty-seven, he commenced work as a tailor's pattern cutter working on the seventh floor of the Australian Buildings in Elizabeth Street.17 After three years he again changed tack. Symptomatic of a restlessness that seems to pervade Sedon's life as a young man, he joined the Commercial Travellers Association as a travelling sales agent for the Melbourne soft goods firm Connibere, Grieve and Connibere,18 'the wisest men in the Flinders Lane rag trade'.19
In June 1916, Sedon married Isabel Constance Crawford, the daughter of wealthy gentleman Robert Crawford whose large villa residence, 'Craigellachie', straddled three acres on the corner of Orrong and Inkerman roads in St Kilda. Robert Crawford's death in February 1919 saw 'Craigellachie' put on the market and his substantial fortune of more than £44,020, of which £8774 was held in real estate, was – excluding several bequests – bequeathed to his three sons, three daughters, and their children.20
W. R. and Isabel Sedon profited substantially from the division of her father's estate. It explains Sedon's move away from working-class Richmond to the rather more affluent suburb of Camberwell in 1920, where the couple bought 'Ramornie', a spacious,
slate-roofed, Victorian brick villa at 3 Russell Street. In the recent past the house had been the family home of the noted Anglo-Australian tennis player Randolph Lycett who had had a full-sized tennis court constructed in the backyard.21 The Sedons' purchase of 'Ramornie' seems to have been made entirely from Isabel's inheritance and the house was placed in her name.22 It was more than simply a nice house in a comfortable suburb; in a street where many of the neighbouring houses consisted of five or six rooms, 'Ramornie's eleven rooms set it apart as being particularly grand.23
The death of Sedon's grandmother Jane Kyle a few months earlier in late December 1919 was another catalyst for change. Whether Sedon had already begun giving serious attention to the collecting of art works prior to her death is unclear, but certainly a review of his Galleries at the end of the 1920s noted that the 'nucleus of his private collection was formed by his maternal grandmother'.24 Though there is little evidence in his papers, or elsewhere, to reflect what may have already been a loose operation of dealing, Arnold Shore, among others, recalled Sedon to have been collecting and mixing in art circles for several years before launching his career as a professional dealer.25

Buying Australian Art – A Market Taste

The inter-war period in Australian art witnessed a boom in the private collecting of art and art objects, beginning almost immediately after the war. Despite the blossoming of a distinctively Australian school of painting at the end of the nineteenth century, with a few exceptions the attention and tastes of the art establishment – state institutions, commercial art dealers, both in turn informing and shaping the tastes of private collectors – remained strongly British. Australian artist, Sydney Long, lamented in 1905 that local artists 'shall have to wait until the wealthy Australian buys his pictures here, instead of satisfying his artistic cravings with imitations of the Old Masters, or potboilers by mediocre English artists imported for trade purposes'.26 Melburnian art patron Baldwin Spencer recognised the same trend, writing to Harry P. Gill, Director of the South Australian Art Gallery, three years later that there was a great difficulty in promoting Australian art as 'our wealthy people here will only buy at "British" art shows'.27 Among many collectors, and some critics, such attitudes would linger up until the Second World War.
The auction sales of the art collections of prominent New South Wales mining figure and art patron Leonard Dodds in March 1918, and Baldwin Spencer in May 1919, as well as subsequent auctions of remaining works from both collections throughout the 1920s marked a discernable shift in market appreciation for Australian art. Awareness of the rising commercial value of Australian art works played a significant role in influencing this emerging market trend. Works such as Arthur Streeton's The Railway Station (1893) – one of his 'two urban masterpieces' painted that year28 – purchased by Dodds in the late 1890s for £12 ('a fair price at the time', according to art historian
William Moore) sold at auction in 1922 for 350 guineas.29
Like Leonard Dodds, Baldwin Spencer's patronage of Australian artists – both locally in Melbourne, but also in Sydney – was widely known. 'This collection, which is admittedly the finest ever made, is not only of artistic, but of historical interest,' the Argus reminded its readers in 1919, 'and is unique on account of its containing the finest earlier works of Arthur Streeton, David Davies, F. McCubbin, Walter Withers, and others of the older school'.30 The sale of the collection, held at Melbourne's Fine Art Society Galleries in conjunction with auctioneers Arthur Tuckett and Sons, attracted many of Melbourne's leading business figures and established art patrons. Prices on the first day were indicatively strong, as bidders battled to secure works by established Australian artists. George W. Lambert's The Bathers was passed in at 150 guineas only to be swooped upon by Mrs Barnett, wife of collector A. O. Barnett, and acquired minutes later for 175 guineas.31 The prize of the sale, Streeton's depiction of Nelson's Column in London's Trafalgar Square, The Centre of the Empire, brought a staggering £400. It was one of nineteen paintings by Streeton, all of which sold.32 The effects of the Spencer sale were to ripple throughout the Australian art markets for more than two decades, providing the milieu in which W. R. Sedon and other art dealerships would thrive. Australian art had found a ready market.
The sale of the Baldwin Spencer collection became the benchmark, prompting a response that could be seen almost immediately. Within weeks, the collection of the Melbourne collector Lawrence Abrahams was advertised for sale. 'The collection now to be submitted for public competition though smaller than that of Professor Baldwin Spencer, is by no means inferior in quality', the Argus announced.33 Table Talk, that popular source of Melbourne's news and gossip, suggested that Art lovers who were disappointed at the Baldwin Spencer sale in not being able to obtain examples of the work of Conder, Hilder, Streeton, Heysen, and others will have another opportunity on June 20 next, when the superb collection of Australian pictures made by the late Lawrence Abrahams will be submitted for public competition at the Decoration Art Gallery, 289 Collins-street'.34 Though not quite as profitable as the auction of the Spencer collection, the Abrahams sale realised about £2000, demonstrating 'that there is still an inclination to give high prices for the work of certain artists'.35
Did W. R. Sedon attend either sale? The two major auctions of Australian art would have been timely in view of his strengthened financial position following his father-in-law's death at the beginning of 1919. Arnold Shore claimed that Sedon had 'mixed in art circles ... for some years' before commencing his own business.36 Alan McCulloch, in his Encyclopaedia of Australia Art, wrote that Sedon was 'active' from approximately 1920 onwards.37 He would certainly have been aware of the strengthening prices being achieved by Australian art in the immediate post-war market. His papers, however, shed no light on what prompted the change of profession from commercial traveller to art dealer.
There is, however, some evidence to place Sedon amongst the throng of Melbourne's enthusiastic art buyers attending the sales. Amongst the gems of the Abrahams collection had been Frederick McCubbin's oil painting Feeding Time (1893), which sold for £157/10/-.38 The National Gallery of Victoria had purchased it in 1894 before disposing of it in 1900 in part exchange for McCubbin's A Winter Evening (1897).39 It probably passed to Abrahams at this point, before being sold with the rest of his collection in June 1919. When the work next appeared on the market it was praised as 'one of the most important works by this famous artist'. That was in December 1960, at the auction sale of the collection of Australian paintings of the late William R. Sedon.40

The Sedon Galleries – Selling Australian Art

By 1925, Melbourne's small commercial art gallery sector was growing steadily. 'The coming of yet another gallery tells of an increasing art-buying public', Sydney's Bulletin wrote a week after Melbourne's latest commercial enterprise opened on a wet Tuesday afternoon on the 13 October, 1925. 'The Sedon, which has opened in the Hardware Buildings, has made a good entry with a collection of pictures by men in the front rank and some others.'41 Situated on the fourth floor of recently renovated Hardware Chambers at 231 Elizabeth Street, opposite the GPO, the Galleries shared the building with an assortment of manufacturers' agents, hardware wholesalers and the occasional artist who rented vacant rooms as studios.42 Artist Max Meldrum held a room in the building that, after his failure to retain the presidency of the Victorian Artists Society in 1918, became the meeting point for the renegade artists that followed him to form the Twenty Melbourne Painters Society43 No doubt it is more than coincidental that Sedon regularly exhibited a number of these artists.
Like many of Melbourne's commercial galleries of the period, the Sedon Galleries established itself from the outset for its promotion of Australian art. The inaugural exhibition of works by 'Leading Australian Artists' represented not only artists at the height of their popularity throughout the 1920s – such as Arthur Streeton, Walter Withers, Elioth Gruner, Norman Lindsay, R. W. Sturgess, W. D. Knox, Nora Gurdon, Gwen Barringer, Carl Hampel, and M. J. MacNally – but also relatively young artists early in their careers. Watercolourist Harold Herbert was thirty-three, Carlyle Jackson thirty-four, while Ralph Warner would turn twenty-three in 1925. Miniaturist Bernice Edwell seems an unlikely inclusion though, as member of the Twenty Melbourne Painters Society alongside Carl Hampel, her work would have been familiar to Sedon, as much as it was enjoying something of a renaissance.44
While the commercial demand for Australian paintings had risen since the end of the war, the work of print artists had been a popular, more affordable art form for the general art-buying public since the turn of the century. Artists John Shirlow, Lionel and later Norman Lindsay, Victor Cobb, Ernest Moffit, Sydney Ure Smith and others had been producing works in the medium since before the outbreak of war in 1914. The
establishment of the Australian Painters-Etchers Society in Sydney in 1920, 'to help considerably in advancing the Art of Etching in this part of the world', and the Society's inaugural exhibition the following year did much to generate awareness in this more accessible form of art.45 Lionel Lindsay, as the Society's first president, contributed an article to fellow committee member Sydney Ure Smith's influential publication Art in Australia promoting the show. Lindsay sought to provide his readership with 'a concise but complete account of the great Etchers of Europe', supplemented with illustrations of 'a selection of the best Etchings from Rembrandt to Zorn'.46

Eleventh Annual Xmas Etching Exhibition. By the mid-1930s, the Sedon Galleries' annual Christmas exhibition was a regular feature of Melbourne's art calendar. Sedon Galleries, AAA File (1930s).

As with many Australian private collections in the early years of the twentieth century, the legacy of European tastes was still strongly present. Continental etchers such as Rembrandt van Rijn to the Swede, Anders Zorn, would have been familiar names to readers of Art in Australia. From the time of the Galleries' opening, Sedon recognised the accessibility and thus commercial potential of prints and etchings. The Sedon Galleries' '1st Annual Xmas Exhibition', opened on 14 December 1925, was deliberately timed to target the pre-Christmas market.47 Along with a selection of paintings by established Australian artists, a range of Australian and Continental Etchings' starting from the very affordable price of 10s 6d made attractive gifts.48 Etchings, woodcuts and lithographic works would remain a consistent feature of the Sedon Galleries' annual exhibition schedule throughout the 1920s and 1930s, though as the demand by the private market for the medium weakened in the 1940s, they were slowly replaced by shows of watercolours and tinted drawings.
Yet for the first decade of the Sedon Galleries, printed art works were an important and integral component of market sales. So much so, that Sydney's Bulletin, writing two decades later, attributed the founding of the Galleries to Sedon's astute on-sale of 'a consignment of 500 European etchings, including prints by Anders Zorn, Halm, Georges and Paschke'. As they wrote then, Sedon 'disposed of part of the

'Six months notice if you fail to make an effort to see this', W. R. Sedon warned Robert H. Croll at the beginning of 1928. Exhibition of Modern Etchers, exhibition invitation, The Sedon Galleries, 12-23 June 1928, in Sedon Galleries, AAA File (1920s).

collection to the Melbourne National Gallery, and soon after opened the Sedon Galleries'.49 Enticing as the claim is, there is little to substantiate this version of events, at least in its entirety. The National Gallery of Victoria reports from the period show no large collections of prints being received, nor is there any record of such acquisitions in the Gallery trustees' and Felton Bequest Committee's minutes.
Though perhaps there is an element of truth. At the instigation of the National Gallery of Victoria's Director, Bernard Hall, the Gallery trustees and the Felton Bequest Commitee considered several etched works from the Sedon Galleries. In December 1926, eight etchings – including two by Anders Zorn, Queen Sophia and The Tinkers -were purchased through the Felton Bequest, along with etchings by Penleigh Boyd, Lionel Lindsay and Napier Waller.50 In November 1927, following a visit by the National Gallery of Victoria's Keeper of Prints, H. S. Gilkes, to the Sedon Galleries' impressive exhibition of three hundred and sixty-four printed works, a further thirty-four etchings and woodcuts were acquired through the Felton Bequest for £153/16/-.51 A day after the 'Exhibition of Masterpieces by Modern Etchers' opened at the Sedon Galleries in June 1928,
the Galleries' rooms hosted a combined conference between the Felton Bequests Committee and the National Gallery trustees; a profitable meeting in which the Bequests Committee approved the purchase of fifteen European etchings for £172/4/-.52 A similar sale resulted in November 1928, when Hall recommended nine etchings for consideration by the trustees.53 While the Bulletins correspondent may have misunderstood the dynamics of their initial transaction, a close relationship with the National Gallery of Victoria print room was nonetheless an important conduit for sales for Sedon and an important, regular source of income across the early years of the business.
Supply of British and European etchings most likely came through the renowned and long-established London art dealership, Colnaghi. Perhaps the initial introduction had come through Sedon's boyhood acquaintance with Lionel Lindsay, already a close friend of Harold Wright of Colnaghi. Certainly the relationship between the two dealers was close enough by 1929 for Colnaghi to write to Sedon of 'Mr Campbell's call on us', suggesting that Sedon had provided Robert Campbell letters of introduction as he left Australia for Europe, as well as sending a selection of their most recent publications that they hoped 'will be of interest both to you, and your clients'.54 A list of prints held by the Sedon Galleries for sale from Colnaghi dated April 1931 reveals the continuance of this relationship into the following decade.55
Sedon had identified his market and, with a few exceptions, remained committed to the promotion of 'leading Australian artists' throughout the entire life of the business. Although McCulloch and others would characterise him for being 'strongly anti-modernist in his views',56 it is equally true that Sedon was loyally supportive of emerging artists that shared his more traditional view of Australian art. Many of these were not only actively promoted through the Sedon Galleries, but their works were personally acquired by Sedon for his own private collection.
At twenty-six, Robert Campbell's highly successful solo exhibition at the Sedon Galleries in February 1928 launched his artistic career, leading to a second, sell-out exhibition with Sedon in September – October that year.57 Sixty-nine of the eighty-six landscape paintings had already sold when the exhibition opened on 25 September.58 Opening the exhibition, Donald Mackinnon, noted: 'I can see, even with my inexperienced eyes, that there is vim and vigour about these paintings. Mr. Campbell is courageous, and gets out of the rut. He gives every promise of going a long way in his profession'.59 Mackinnon bought one of Campbell's oil paintings, a view of Elizabeth Street. Perhaps it was Elizabeth Street from the Sedon Galleries, a view from the fourth floor of the Hardware Chambers singled out by the Argus' art reviewer for its 'striking colour scheme of orange and purples'.60 Campbell was not present to hear such flattering remarks, to read the favourable reviews in the newspapers, or know that the entire exhibition had sold out by the time it closed; armed with Sedon's letter of introduction, he had sailed from Melbourne the previous day with Rupert Bunny on a study trip of
the art centres of Europe.61

The Robertson and Mullens Building at 107 Elizabeth Street, home of the Sedon Galleries for more than twenty years, from 1937 until 1959. Photograph by Benjamin Thomas, 2010.

Sedon's early support of Campbell would develop into career-long promotion of his work. In the decade following his 1928 inaugural exhibition, Campbell held seven solo shows at the Sedon Galleries and his work was included regularly in Sedon's annual exhibition of Leading Australian Artists. While his artistic output would diminish after being appointed as Director of Art at the Launceston Technical School in 1941, the correspondence between the two men continued in Campbell's later roles as the inaugural Director of the Queensland Art Gallery (1949-51) and subsequently as Director at the Art Gallery of South Australia (1951-67).62 'Dear Bill', he wrote in mid-August 1952, 'I am on the lookout for some good pictures by either early or contemporary artists, so if you have got something or know of anything I will drop in & see you'.63
Artist and, between 1937 and 1944, Director of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Will Ashton, was another regular correspondent and exhibitor at the Sedon Galleries. His letters detail the routine minutiae of wartime restrictions ('see what you can do for me with paint canvas & brushes & I also want some linseed oil & turpentine'),64 the ebbs and flow of the art market ('Too many shows, or should I say poor shows ... I agree with you ... its better to sell good works privately'),65 and his loyalty to his Melbourne dealer: 'Many people are asking me why I am not showing here and I tell them, I am keeping my promise to Mr Sedon'.66 Ashton introduced Sydney artist John Kilgour to Sedon in 1945, and suggested Hilda Rix Nicholas the following year as an artist worthy of exhibition.67 Kilgour was subsequently included in the Galleries' 1946 'Exhibition of Paintings by Forty Leading Australian and English Artists'68 and an exhibition of paintings by members of the Royal
Art Society of New South Wales in 1949, along with other Sedon favourites, James R. Jackson and Rubery Bennett.69 'I told Kilgour I always showed my work at the Sedon Galleries, & always would', Ashton wrote to Sedon. '[Frank] Medworth asked me about showing in Melbourne & I told him the same'.70

Painters, Patrons and Personalities

The market for paintings as well as decorative arts had been on a high only a few years earlier, when the Sedon Galleries had opened, and 'the public has very generously bought not only pictures, but art objects generally and of a better type than heretofore'.71 Then the Depression hit, and the once vibrant art market slumped. Either forced by circumstance, or more likely by choice following the death of his wife, Isabel Sedon, aged fifty-three, on 13 January 1928, Sedon put 'Ramornie' in Russell street, Camberwell, and his private art collection to sale.72 With no children and her siblings already well looked after by the division of their father's estate, Isabel had named her husband the sole beneficiary of her will. 'Ramornie' – together with the few savings still under her name and her share of the accrued interest on Robert Crawford's estate – provided Sedon with the generous sum of £2,837/17/4. The house, commodious for two, was certainly more than ample for a single man in his mid fifties. Whatever his reasons, Sedon sold 'Ramornie' in May, probably for the £2,400 he valued it some months later in Isabel's probate papers.73
In October 1928, the house's complete furnishing as well Sedon's collection of furniture, china, crystal and artworks was sold by auction through the long-running Melbourne auctioneers, Decoration Company74 'Mr Sedon (Sedon Galleries) has collected for years, and has one of the most interesting Collections of ornaments, statuary, pictures, crystal, &c. in Melbourne' they reported in the Argus newspaper in the lead up to the sale, which saw items put to sale without reserve.75 Although no catalogue exists of the sale, some details of the sale of the 'splendid collection' of chinaware, Venetian glass, bronzes, furniture and art can be gleaned from relevant newspaper advertisements. These included 'very fine large works' in both oil and watercolour by Frederick McCubbin, Carl Hampel, Walter Withers, Alfred East, Robert Campbell, James Swinton Diston, Walter Seehusen, Daryl Lindsay, Gwen Barringer, Carlyle Jackson, and others.76
From the resulting proceeds of the sale, a new 'Ramornie' was established at 49 Mangarra Road, Canterbury, on an even grander scale than the Russell Street home had offered. Sedon had a 50ft. x 18ft. gallery added to the property 'to house his own cherished possessions'.77 The latest addition to these was a painting by Corot, acquired in early July 1929.78
By now, Sedon had attained national distinction as 'one of our foremost dealers'.79 The annual Christmas exhibitions of etchings and woodcuts numbered works in the hundreds, while shows such as the 'Exhibition of Etchings by Rembrandt' in July
August 1929 followed closely by the strong representation of Frank Brangwyn and William Walcot in the Christmas sale assured his association with this strong market.80 'No other artist has challenged Brangwyn in his field, if Walcot's fine-lined, imaginative plates are excluded', the Argus' art correspondent wrote, before referring to the five etchings attributed to Rembrandt: 'The catalogue states that they are guaranteed to be genuine'.81
The solid growth of the business had already required the Sedon Galleries to be expanded three times within the limitations of the Hardware Chambers building, before Sedon was finally forced to move a block south to Elizabeth House, 129 Elizabeth Street. He would move again, temporarily, into the basement of Elizabeth House in late 1936, before reopening in April 1937 in the nearby Robertson and Mullens Building at 107 Elizabeth Street. The surrounding blocks were a focal point for the arts and literature. The New Gallery had formerly been situated on the top floor of the Robertson and Mullens Building, Decoration Galleries had been established in Little Collins Street in 1922 with the assistance of Joshua McClelland, who opened his own Little Galleries in the same street in 1927, before moving half a block to Collins Street in the mid 1930s.82 Robertson and Mullens booksellers gave their name to the building out of which they traded on Elizabeth Street, while Margareta Webber opened her well known bookshop in 1931 on the fourth floor of McEwan House at 343 Little Collins Street, on the southwest corner of Elizabeth Street.83
The Sedon Galleries, entered off Little Collins Street, reopened in September 1930 with an exhibition of the work of twelve established Australian artists. Harold Herbert, writing for the Australasian, commended Sedon for being 'fortunate in collecting such good examples of each artist's work'.84 Artist A. M. E. Bale purchased National Gallery of Victoria director Bernard Hall's The Gardener's Cottage, which 'touched' Hall. After so long a break from exhibiting, Hall had found the experience of exhibiting daunting and was 'glad it [was] over'.85 Two days after the exhibition closed, he wrote to Sedon: 'It was a great adventure and I must thank you very sincerely for seeing me through. I was very well pleased with the way you managed it, and the favours it received'.86
In Melbourne's small art circle of the 1920s and '30s, and even smaller clique of social elite, relationships were the key to successful promotion, much as they remain today When Bernard Hall left on a buying trip to England in early 1934, Sedon hosted a lavish farewell party at his home in the city's leafy eastern suburbs. 'Lanterns glowed behind the cool leaves of bamboos and trees in the garden at Ramornie, Mr. W. R. Sedon's home in Mangarra road, East Canterbury', the Argus newspaper reported, before continuing to discuss the evening's fashion.87 Among the throng of people in attendance were artists John Longstaff, W. B. McInnes, Napier Waller, Dora Wilson, George Bell, mixing with others from Melbourne's medical and professional circles. Couples danced in 'Ramornie's' private gallery room, art works were admired, and letters of good luck read out by Sedon from James S. MacDonald, Director of the Art Gallery of New South

The first 'Ramornie', 3 Russell Street, Camberwell, home of W. R. and Isabel Sedon from 1920 until her death in 1928. After she died, Sedon moved to nearby 49 Mangarra Road, Canterbury, but kept the name, 'Ramornie'. Both houses are still standing. Photograph by Benjamin Thomas, 2010.

Wales, and Leslie Wilkie, Director of the Art Gallery of South Australia. After a brief response from Mr. Hall, his health was drunk, and everyone sang For he's a Jolly Good Fellow'.88 For most at the party, it would be the last time they saw the seventy-five year old Director of the National Gallery; Bernard Hall died the following year while still in London.
Throughout the 1930s and 1940s, as other non-commercial gallery spaces around Melbourne gave increasing room to more modernist expression, the Sedon Galleries remained staunchly focussed. The Galleries' annual Christmas exhibitions of etchings had become 'a feature of the artistic year',89 while shows like the Exhibition of Oils & Water-Colors by the Master Painters of the '90s in 1931 marked an engagement with that Australian school of work that would span the Galleries' activities for the next three decades.90 Throughout the late 1940s and into the 1950s, solo exhibitions of Streeton and McCubbin's work were a regular feature of the Galleries. These artists were also represented in mixed exhibitions at the Galleries, and both were represented in Sedon's private collection.91 Traditionalist, even by the standards of the day, Sedon's promotion of Louis Buvelot, Frederick McCubbin, Charles Conder, Arthur Streeton and Tom
Roberts not only reflected the commercial viability of this market, but also an appreciation of these artists almost a decade before the National Gallery of Victoria gave concerted attention to the expansion of its Australian Impressionist collection under the Directorship of Daryl Lindsay.
McCubbin's Lost (1886), exhibited by Sedon in 1931 for sale at 600 guineas, was included in a solo retrospective exhibition of McCubbin's oil paintings in September 1941.92 The work, among others, appealed strongly to President of the Trustees of the National Gallery of Victoria, Sir Keith Murdoch, who opened the exhibition. 'I wish you would see the exhibition of the late Frederick McCubbin's works at the Sedon Galleries' he wrote to National Gallery of Victoria Director, James S. MacDonald. 'The picture entitled "North Wind" appears to me to be a desirable purchase.'93 North Wind, Self Portrait, and Lost – now at 400 guineas – were considered by the Felton Bequests' Committee and Gallery trustees in October 1941 and subsequently purchased for the Gallery's collection, Lost being acquired at a further reduction for 200 guineas.94
When artists Mary Edwards and Joseph Wolinski took the Art Gallery of New South Wales to court over William Dobell's winning 1943 Archibald prize portrait of Joshua Smith and lost, artist A. M. E. Bale arranged an exhibition at the Sedon Galleries of donated art works to be sold in order to defray the legal costs. 'It is obvious that this action was a courageous attempt to uphold the sanity of Art and the terms of the Archibald Bequest, and had no ulterior motive', she argued.95 Sedon's support extended to waiving the normal commission on works, but, sensitive to alienating artists and potential clients, was eager to stress that involvement was 'not a matter of taking sides in the recent controversy but lending a helping hand to these two artists'.96 The exhibition, however, was a commercial failure. In a last-ditch attempt the works were put to auction through Leonard Joel's, but even then only two of them reached the reserve that was already set lower than gallery prices. Disappointed, Bale informed Sedon: 'This is the end of our unlucky organized effort, about £75. Any further help must come from individual action'.97
The relationships formed between Sedon and artists, critics, and occasionally with buyers, was at times delicate and the subject of disputes. Long-represented artist Robert Campbell was among several artists whose arguments with Sedon are reflected in his papers. In 1944, when Sedon charged Campbell with being ungrateful for all the support the Galleries had provided, Campbell fired back:
Everybody knows what you did for me – & you didn't do badly for yourself either. I have always said you are the smartest picture salesman in Australia but candidly I don't think you were always frank with me & I do know when I was last in Melbourne some eighteen months ago, you were doing your best to damn me.98
The spat was not lasting, but it illustrated the often difficult relationship dealers and artists shared. Sydney dealer and artist Rubery Bennett, represented in Melbourne by Sedon, was shocked to receive a letter from Evelyn Baxter, another favourite
promoted by the Galleries, stating that her relationship with Sedon had broken down. 'That such old friends, such good friends were no longer on speaking terms is crazy. After all Evelyn I do know how much the Sedon Galleries have done for you; you being on a sort of pedestal with them.'99 The cause of the argument is not discussed, but it put a temporary stop to Baxter's three year run of annual exhibitions with the Galleries beginning in 1946. She resumed again in October 1953,100 and held her final exhibition with Sedon in November 1956.101 Even his long friendship with Lionel Lindsay did not prevent some questionable dealings, prompting an angered Lindsay to fume: 'That Bugger Sedon tried to double cross me'.102 Lindsay's youngest brother Daryl thought even less of him. He turned down a lunch with Will Ashton when he learnt Sedon would be present. 'I would not break bread with him if I could avoid it – & the wine would stick in my throat'.103
Melbourne's art critics wielded the power to either boast an exhibition's sale, or cause it to fall flat. In a review of three exhibitions in late 1945, an exasperated Alan McCulloch barely gave Lionel Lindsay's exhibition of watercolours and drawings at the Sedon Galleries six lines of coverage in the Argus. 'They are of the type already made familiar to the public through many previous exhibitions', he wrote dismissively.104 A decade later, Arthur Streeton's grandson blamed a poor result for an exhibition of works by Streeton to McCulloch's lack-lustre review. A disappointed Oliver Streeton thought that the show was 'the only one of Streetons [sic] that we did not make a decent thing out of... I attribute the position very largely to McCulloch, and various knowledgeable people that I have questioned, agree with me'.105
An exhibition of Hilda Rix Nicholas' work in April 1947 was almost cancelled when the artist threatened to withdraw her works after being given a condescending lecture by Sedon's nephew and, since 1946, co-manager, Lawrence Clifton Sedon-Thompson.106 After much placating by Sedon – who explained that 'We were just suggesting what would make your pictures more saleable' – the exhibition went ahead. Rix Nicholas had evidently not been the first to suffer such treatment. As she wrote to a friend, 'I had been told of Sedon's rudeness – tho with him there is some grace and humour and he suffers from arthritis in his hip badly – a certain amount of irritability – tho not rudeness – is understandable. But I had heard of the ignorance and abominable rudeness of his nephew – and I was glad to had put him where he belongs'.107

End of an Era

In August 1959, after twenty-two years in the Robertson and Mullens Building at 107 Elizabeth Street, rising inner-city rent forced the Sedon Galleries to move away from Melbourne's centre 'to better lighted and more spacious premises at 150 Burwood Road, Hawthorn'.108 A temporary home was found for a fortnight-long exhibition of 118 works in the school hall of Camberwell Grammar. Having occupied the new Hawthorn gallery space for only a few months, the 1959 annual Christmas exhibition was the Sedon Galleries' last.
At eighty-three years of age, and having suffered ill health for a number of years, Sedon looked to dispose of his private collection. He included a number of his works in the Camberwell Grammar exhibition, though struggling to find buyers for them. He died at his second 'Ramornie' home on Friday evening, 18 December 1959, and was buried at Boroondara Cemetery in Kew four days later.109 Sedon's will, administered by solicitor, art patron and client Oswald Burt, left everything to his nephew, Lawrence Clifton Sedon-Thompson.110
It was almost a year after Sedon's death that the 'The W.R. Sedon Collection of Australian Paintings' was put up for auction on Monday, 5 December 1960. The Argus had claimed a year earlier that nearly 'every Australian artist of note was represented in his private collection', a claim which deliberately overlooked the exclusion of most artists that could be considered modernist.111 Still, comprised of 160 works, the collection was a rich narrative illustration of Australian art, framed within the priorities of Sedon's own personal tastes. Artists represented included respected names such as Frederick McCubbin (3), Sir Arthur Streeton (14), Tom Roberts (1), Charles Conder (1), Sir John Longstaff (1), and Walter Withers (5). Other works represented artists who had exhibited at Sedon Galleries, and in some cases close friendships: James R. Jackson (9), Harold Herbert (6), Herbert Rose (5), Robert Campbell (6), Rubery Bennett (5), and Will Ashton (2). These were complemented by a selection of other well-established names, R. W. Sturgess, C. Rolando, Percy, Norman, Lionel and Daryl Lindsay, W. D. Knox, J. W. Curtis, J. H. Sheltema, Violet McInnes, Max Ragliss, H. Septimus Power, Hans Heysen, Frank Crozier, Dora Wilson, J. S. Moore, John Mather, Malcolm Hone, Charles Wheeler, Thea Proctor, John Rowell, A. M. E. Bale, among others.
Surprisingly, there was little in the way of prominent media coverage. The few advertisements published in the Age appeared in the back pages, and in the days that followed the sale none of Melbourne's major papers appear to have published the results. Shifting market tastes probably had a lot to do with it. Arnold Shore had previously said of Sedon's aesthetic that 'Time would have stood still could he so have commanded'.112 Sedon had been fortunate that the primary decades of his business coincided with a resurgence in Australian Impressionist art and later traditional schools, yet equally Sedon had played a significant and influential role in shaping this market. But that was now changing. Artists that had once been so popular among collectors of the 1920s and 1930s had fallen out of favour. The highly successful sale of Norman Schureck's collection in March 1962 of works by largely contemporary Australian artists reflected, as the Baldwin Spencer sale had done some forty-three years earlier, a discernable shift in taste and appreciation among the buying public. The proliferation of commercial galleries that sprang up across Melbourne in the 1950s and 1960s catered to a different genre of Australian art and a different kind of buyer. Art dealing in Australian art in something of a grand manner', as Arnold Shore had described Sedon's career, had drawn to a close.113


A. Shore, 'Well-known Art Dealer Dies', Age, 21 December 1959, p. 3.


P. Leason, 'Current Art Shows. Mr. Arnold Shore at the Athenaeum', Table Talk, 22 August 1929, p. 15.


Shore, 'Well-known Art Dealer Dies'.


Lionel Lindsay, letter to W. R. Sedon, 2 February 1946, MS 10435, Sedon Gallery Papers, Box 2484, Folder 2484/1, Australian Manuscripts Collection, State Library of Victoria (hereafter Sedon Papers).


C. Wade, A Critique of the Pure Art Critic', The Art Student, vol. 1, no. 3, May 1932, p. 15.


South Australian Births register 1842-1906, Port Adelaide district, book 221, p. 471.


Argus, 21 Feb 1878, p. 1; Bulletin, 29 October 1947, p. 20.


Argus, 3 April 1890, p. 10; Argus, 9 May 1890, p. 3.


Biographical Data and Photograph of William Richard Sedon, released by International Press Service Association of Australia, compilers and publishers "Who's Who in Australia", nd. See also Who's Who in Australia, Melbourne: The Herald, 1935, p. 982.


Biographical Data and Photograph of William Richard Sedon.


See note 106.


Bulletin, 29 October 1947, p. 20.


Alleged Scrip Forgeries', Argus, 11 April 1903, p. 13; 'The Scrip Frauds', Argus, 20 June 1903, p. 15.


'Scrip Forgeries', Argus, 25 June 1903, p. 8.


In 1897, the year Thomas Sedon is absent from the trade directories, Collins Street sharebroker W. C. Bury was the victim of a mining scrip fraud to the value of £343/15/-. A similar method of deceit was used in Sydney five years later in August 1902 such that, while no direct evidence was put forward, it was argued that the 'description fitted Sedon "like paper on the wall'". 'Scrip Forgeries', Argus, 25 June 1903, p. 8.


'Prisoners reported as discharged from the penal establishments during the week ending 21st Oct., 1905', Victorian Police Gazette, no. 52, 28 December 1905, np.


Sands & McDougall Directory of Victoria for 1904, Melbourne: Sands and McDougall, 1904, p. 1343; Victorian Electoral Roll, Division of Yarra, Richmond Central (Church Street), p. 67; Bulletin, 29 October 1947, p. 20.


The Australasian Traveller, vol. 2, no. 8, 3 October 1906, p. 37; W. R. Sedon, membership no. 1394, CTA Association Members Register 1905-1910, A.1979.0162, Commercial Travellers Association papers, University of Melbourne Archives.


G. Meudell, The Pleasant Career of a Spendthrift, London: Routledge & Sons, 1929, p. 131.


This sum excluded additional assets held by Crawford in New South Wales and Western Australia. Argus, 1 May 1919, p. 6.


Argus, 5 May 1928, p. 3; P. Kettle, Randolph Lycett, Tennis Player: Britain's finest from 1920-25, Melbourne: Peter Kettle and Associates, 2005, pp. 51-52.


Public Record Office of Victoria (hereafter PROV), VPRS 5903/19, microfilm copy of VPRS 397, Rate Books, City of Camberwell, Rate Book 143-146, 1925-26, Centre Ward, No.2, p. 85, no. 19348, Sedon, Isabel Constance. See also Isabel Sedon's probate papers in which W. R. Sedon writes 'That the real and personal property set out in the said Inventory was the separate property of the said deceased at the time of her death, the certificate of title to the said real estate and the moneys in the Bank accounts being in her own name'. PROV, VPRS 28/ P03/ Unit 1888, Probate of Isabel Constance Sedon, Affidavit of Executor.


Argus, 5 May 1928, p. 3.


Bulletin, 10 July 1929, p. 46.


Shore, 'Well-known Art Dealer Dies'. Shore goes on to note that Sedon established himself in Hardware Chambers, Elizabeth Street, 'some time about 1914'. This is either an error or a simple typo. There is nothing to support such an early commencement date, and as late as 1924 – the year before the Sedon Galleries opened– W. R. Sedon's profession is recorded on the Australian electoral rolls as 'traveller', in reference to his continuing employment with the Commercial Traveller's Association. Sedon, W. R., Victorian Electoral Roll, 1924, division of Kooyong, subdivision of Camberwell, p. 117.


S. Long, 'The Trend of Australian Art Considered and Discussed', Art and Architecture: the journal of the Institute of Architects of NSW, vol. 2, no. 1, January-February 1905, p. 9.


Sir Baldwin Spencer, letter to H. P. Gill, 7 August 1908, in C. Thiele, Heysen of Hahndorf, rev. ed., Diamond Creek, Vic.: David Heysen Productions, 2001, pp. 115-16.


Galbally cites the other 'masterpiece' as being Circular Quay. A. Galbally, 'Streeton, Sir Arthur Ernest (1867-1943), Australian Dictionary of Biograpphy. Available on-line at


W. Moore, The Story of Australian Art, Sydney: Angus & Robertson, 1934, vol. 2, p. 27.


Australian Art. Sir Baldwin Spencer's Collection', Argus, 7 March 1919, p. 6.


In 1938, Mrs A. O. Barnett gifted the painting to the Art Gallery of South Australia. George W. Lambert, The holiday group (The bathers), 1907, oil on canvas, 90.7 x 78.7cm, gift of Mrs A. O. Barnett 1938, AGSA, O.990. See also A. Grey, George W. Lambert Retrospective: heroes & icons, Canberra: National Gallery of Australia, 2007, p. 103, cat. 35. Mulvaney and Calaby assert that The Bathers was bought directly from the Spencer sale 'by the S.A. Art Gallery for £183 15s 0d'. See D. J. Mulvaney and J. H. Calaby, 'So much that is new': Baldwin Spencer, 1860-1929: a biography, Carlton, Vic: Melbourne University Press, 1985, notes, chapter 17, fn. 37, p. 465.


'Spencer Art Collection. Streeton Pictures Realises 420 Gns.', Argus, 20 May 1919, p. 6. There is a discrepancy in the article that gives the price realised for The Centre of the Empire as both 420 guineas and £420. A contemporary article a few years after the sale records the price as £420, as does William Moore, writing in 1934, who stated that the painting sold for 400 guineas (£420). The work is the second of two versions of Trafalgar Square, and was exhibited by Streeton at the 1902 Paris Salon. Spencer purchased the painting in Melbourne in April 1907 for £100. The work remains in private ownership. The earlier version, now titled Frosty Noon, was gifted to the National Gallery of Victoria by Dr Joseph Brown in 1986. 'Romance of Art Sales', The Sydney Mail, 26 September 1923, p. 8; G. Smith, Arthur Streeton, 1867-1943, Melbourne: National Gallery of Victoria, 1995, p. 140.


Argus, 31 May 1919, p. 2.


Table Talk, 5 June 1919, p. 31.


'Australian Pictures. Some High Prices', Argus, 21 June 1919, p. 21.


Shore, 'Well-known Art Dealer Dies'.


'Sedon Galleries', A. McCulloch, S. McCulloch, E. McCulloch Childs, The New McCulloch's Encyclopedia of Australian Art, Melbourne: Miegunyah Press, 2006, p. 1148.


Australian Pictures. Some High Prices', Argus, 17 June 1919, p. 21.


J. Clark and B. Whitelaw, Golden Summers, Heidelberg and beyond, Sydney: International Cultural Corporation of Australia, 1985, p. 194; The Dallhold Collection, Christie's, Melbourne, 28 July 1992, lot. 52.


Auction of the W. R. Sedon Collection of Australian Paintings, "Ramornie" 49 Mangarra Road, Camberwell [sic], Decoration Company, Monday, 5 December 1960. In 1992, when Feeding Time was sold from the Dallhold Collection, it was noted that for much of the twentieth century, the painting had been held in anonymous private collections, one in Victoria and subsequently in New South Wales, before reappearing with Sotheby's in April 1986. It seems likely that the private collection in Victoria was that of W. R. Sedon. Feeding Time last sold at auction through Christie's in November 1995 for $552,000 (including buyer's premium).


'Sundry Shows', Bulletin, 22 October 1925, p. 36.


Sands and McDougall Directory of Victoria for 1925, Melbourne: Sands and McDougall, 1925, p. 31.


90 Years of the Twenty Melbourne Painters Society, Melbourne: Twenty Melbourne Painters Society, 2008, pp. 4-5.


For example, see E. Stirling Levis, 'Miniatures: an art that has lived – and still flourishes', Sydney Morning Herald Women's Supplement, 11 July 1935, p. 17. Bernice Edwell had exhibited at both the Paris Salon as well as the Royal Academy, but come to prominence in Australia after winning first prize at the Women's Work Exhibition in Melbourne in 1907. Her miniature works as well as landscapes were exhibited regularly throughout the 1920s, often to good acclaim.


R. Butler, Printed: images by Australian artists 1885-1955, Canberra: National Gallery of Australia, 2007, p. 79.




1st Annual Xmas Exhibition, The Sedon Galleries, Melbourne, 14-18 December 1925.


Argus, 14 December 1925, p. 18.


Bulletin, 29 October 1947, p. 20.


Minutes of a meeting of the Felton Bequests Committee, 17 December 1926, MSF 12855, Felton Bequests Committee minutes, book 4, 1926-1930, Australian Manuscripts Collection, State Library of Victoria, p. 123.


Minutes of a meeting of the Felton Bequests Committee, 28 November 1927, MSF 12855, Felton Bequests Committee minutes, book 4, 1926-1930, Australian Manuscripts Collection, State Library of Victoria, p. 168. The original price of £160/13/- was accepted by the FBC before a reduction was made.


Among them, five works by Royal Academian Frank Brangwyn achieved particularly strong prices; two of them alone, Monument at £32/11/- and Black Hill, Winchelsea at £38/17/-, accounted for almost a third of the total sum. Minutes of a conference meeting between the Felton Bequests Committee and National Gallery trustees, 13 June 1928, MSF 12855, Felton Bequests Committee minutes, book 4, 1926-1930, Australian Manuscripts Collection, State Library of Victoria, p. 190.


Fourth Annual Christmas Exhibition of Etchings, Woodcuts, Lithographs by Famous Master Etchers, The Sedon Galleries, Melbourne, 21 November – c. 24 December 1928; Minutes of a meeting held by the National Gallery trustees on Tuesday, 18 December 1928, MSF 12855, Trustees of the Public Library, Gallery and Museum minutes, vol. 18, 1927-1934, Australian Manuscripts Collection, State Library of Victoria, pp. 127-28.


P. & D. Colnaghi, letter to W. R. Sedon, 16 September 1929, MS 10435, Sedon Papers, Box 2484, Folder 2484/a.


S. Miller, 'Guide to the Papers of the Sedon Gallery, Melbourne, in the Archive of the Art Gallery of New South Wales', MS 1995.5, Research Library and Archive, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 1998.


'Sedon Galleries', The New McCulloch's Encyclopedia of Australian Art.


'Campbell, Robert Richmond', The New McCulloch's Encyclopedia of Australian Art, p. 307.


Art sales and commissions', Art in Australia, third series, no. 26, December 1928, np.


'Exhibition of Paintings/ Mr. Campbell's Landscapes', Argus, 25 September 1928, p. 8.




'Mr. R. Campbell's Paintings', Argus, 26 September 1928, p. 14.


'Campbell, Robert Richmond', The New McCulloch's Encyclopedia of Australian Art.


Robert Campbell, letter to W. R. Sedon, 15 August 1952, MS 10435, Sedon Papers, Box 2484, Folder 2484/a.


Will Ashton, letter to W. R. Sedon, 23 May 1946, MS 10435, Sedon Papers, Box 2483, Folder 2483/d.


Will Ashton, letter to W. R. Sedon, 31 May 1946, MS 10435, Sedon Papers, Box 2483, Folder 2483/d.


Will Ashton, letter to W. R. Sedon, 21 April 1944, MS 10435, Sedon Papers, Box 2483, Folder 2483/b.


Will Ashton, letter to W. R. Sedon, 20 February 1945, MS 10435, Sedon Gallery Papers, Box 2483, Folder 2483/c.


Exhibition of Paintings by Forty Leading Australian and English Artists, The Sedon Galleries, Melbourne, 3-17 April 1946.


Exhibition of Paintings by Membres of the Royal Art Society of New South Wales, The Sedon Galleries, Melbourne, 22 November2 December 1949.


Will Ashton, letter to W. R. Sedon, 8 April 1945, MS 10435, Sedon Papers, Box 2483, Folder 2483/c.


J. MacDonald, 'Melbourne', Art in Australia, Xmas number, third series, number 14, December 1925, np.


Argus, 14 January 1928, p. 13.


PROV, VPRS 28/ P03/ Unit 1888, Probate of Isabel Constance Sedon, Inventory. Sedon married again in 1939. His second wife was killed in a car accident in 1944.


Argus, 20 October 1928, p. 3; Argus, 29 October 1928, p. 2.


Argus, 20 October 1928, p. 3;


Argus, 29 October 1929, p. 2.


Bulletin, 10 July 1929, p. 46.


This work is not listed as still being held by Sedon at the time of the auction sale of his private collection in December 1960, by which time his collecting tastes are sharply focussed exclusively on Australian art.


Bulletin, 10 July 1929, p. 46.


Exhibition of Etchings by Rembrandt, exhibition invitation, The Sedon Galleries, Melbourne, 30 July10 August 1929.


'Show of Etchings. Notable European Plates. Work of Brangwyn and Walcot', Argus, 26 November 1929, p. 9.


'Leading Art Collector Dies', Age, 17 November 1956, p. 5.


M. Lyons and J. Arnold (eds), A History of the Book in Australia, 1891-1945: A National Culture in a Colonised Market, St Lucia, QLD: University of Queensland Press, pp. 133-34.


H. Herbert, Art. Exhibition at the Sedon Galleries', Australasian, 6 September 1930, p. 15; 'Paintings and Etchings At the Sedon Gallery', Age, 2 September 1930, p. 7. Artists included W. B. McInnes, exhibiting 'for the first time for many years', Penleigh Boyd, Harold Herbert, John Longstaff Louis Buvelot, Will Ashton, Napier Waller, Elioth Gruner, Fred McCubbin, Norman Lindsay, whose etchings were 'highly skilled productions, which should interest print collectors', and National Gallery of Victoria Director Bernard Hall.


Probably the same as The Gardener's Workshop exhibited in August at an exhibition of Hall's work held at the Athenaeum in Melbourne. It was last sold on the private market through Christie's in November 2005.


L. Bernard Hall, letter to W. R. Sedon, 15 September 1930, PA 01/134, Sedon Papers, Box 2492, Folder: Sedon, W. R. – Incoming correspondence 1930s-1960s.


'Party at Ramornie. Farewell to Mr. and Mrs. Bernard Hall', Argus, 12 February 1934, p. 13.


'Farewell Party. Dance at Ramornie', Sun News-Pictorial, 12 February 1934, p. 30.


'Masters of Etching', Age, 2 December 1930, p. 10.


Exhibition of Oils & Water-Colors by the Master Painters of the '90s, The Sedon Galleries, Melbourne, 22 September-3 October 1931. Despite the listing of two works by Roberts in the catalogue, his death in September 1931 prevented the works being received in time for the exhibition. It is also noteworthy that no works by Arthur Streeton were included in the exhibition, though several later exhibitions prominently promoted his works.


See, for example, Exhibition of Watercolours by Arthur Streeton, The Sedon Galleries, Melbourne, 28 September-8 October 1948; Exhibition of Paintings by Frederick McCubbin, The Sedon Galleries, Melbourne, 2-12 August 1949; Oil Paintings by the Late Sir Arthur Streeton, The Sedon Galleries, 6-16 September 1949 and Exhibition of Works by Sir Arthur Streeton, The Sedon Galleries, Melbourne, 10-[?] May 1955.


Exhibition of Oils by the Late Fred McCubbin, The Sedon Galleries, Melbourne, 9-19 September 1941.


Keith Murdoch, letter to James S. MacDonald, 10 September 1941, Keith Murdoch Papers, MS 2823, Box 8, Series 5, Folder 1, National Library of Australia.


Minutes of a conference meeting between the Felton Bequests Committee and National Gallery trustees held on 13 October 1941, PA 96/83, Minute Book 7, Australian Manuscripts Collection, State Library of Victoria, pp. 118-119. See also PROV, VPRS 805/ P04/ Unit 5, File: 1/13 'McCubbin, works by recommended'.


A. M. E. Bale, typed notes with handwritten annotations re: Dobell case, 22 March 1945, MS 10435, Sedon Papers, Box 2483, Folder 2483/f.


'Re: Miss Edwards & Mr. Wolinski', typed notes on Sedon Galleries letterhead, undated, c. 1945, MS 10435, Sedon Papers, Box 2483, Folder 2483/f.


A. M .E. Bale, letter to W. R. Sedon, 12 September 1945, MS 10435, Sedon Papers, Box 2483, Folder 2483/f. Australian Manuscripts Collection, State Library of Victoria.


Robert Campbell, letter to W. R. Sedon, 23 May 1944, MS 10435, Sedon Papers, Box 2484, Folder 2484/a.


Rubery Bennett, letter to Evelyn Baxter, 26 May 1949, MS 10435, Sedon Papers, Box 2483, Folder 2483/g.


Arnold Shore at current art shows', Argus, 13 October 1953, p. 9.


'News of the day. Versatile', Age, 6 November 1956, p. 2.


Lionel Lindsay, letter to Daryl Lindsay, 4 January 1940, MS 9242, Lindsay Family Papers, Box 2003, Folder 9242/1240-1321, Australian Manuscripts Collection, State Library of Victoria.


Daryl Lindsay, letter to Lionel Lindsay, 16 May 1952, MS 9242, Lindsay Family Papers, Box 2003, Folder 9242/594-663, Australian Manuscripts Collection, State Library of Victoria.


A. McCulloch, 'Three New Art Shows', Argus, 28 November 1945, p. 7.


Oliver Streeton, letter to W. R. Sedon, 11 June 1955, MS 10435, Sedon Papers, Box 2486, Folder 2486/k; A. McCulloch, Art Review. Contemporary art displayed', Herald, 11 May 1955, p. 21.


Lawrence Clifton Thompson, later Sedon-Thompson, was widely regarded by artists, journalists and contemporary gallery owners to be W. R. Sedon's nephew. However, recent research has been unable to confirm the family connection, with W. R. Sedon seemingly an only child. According to his military records, Lawrence Clifton was born in Sydney on the 14 December 1905 to P. A. and Matilda Adelaide Thompson. His profession was recorded as a commercial traveller. By the time he enlisted in 1942, his permanent address was given as 49 Mangarra Road, Canterbury, with W. R. Sedon. According to Will Ashton, 'Cliff' Sedon-Thompson joined the Sedon Galleries as a partner sometime in late 1944/early 1945. He married in 1948 although this marriage seems to have been short-lived and he remarried in the early 1950s. He presented the Galleries' papers to the State Library of Victoria in 1978 ('Select List of Accessions to the Australian Manuscripts Collection, 1978', La Trobe Library Journal, vol. 6, no. 23, April 1979, p. 63) before being admitted to Willsmere Hospital, Kew, in late 1984 where he died in March 1986 (PROV, VPRS 28/ P16/ Unit 182, Probate files of Lawrence Clifton Sedon-Thompson).


Hilda Rix Nicholas, letter to an anonymous recipient, April 1947, MS 9817, Hilda Rix Nicholas Papers, Series 7, General Correspondence 1908-1961, Folder 44, Correspondence, 1946-47, Re: exhibition at the Sedon Gallery, Melbourne, National Library of Australia.


Exhibition of Paintings at the Camberwell Grammar School Hall, The Sedon Galleries, Melbourne, 29 August-11 September 1959; 'News of the day. Moving', Age, 13 August 1959, p. 2.


Art expert dies; 84', Herald, 19 December 1959, p. 3; 'Leading Art Dealer Dies', Sun, 21 December 1959, p. 14; A. Shore, 'Well-known Art Dealer Dies'.


PROV, VPRS 7591/ P03/ Unit 334, Will and Testament of William Richard Sedon, 18 December 1957.


'Leading Art Dealer Dies', Sun, 21 December, 1959, p. 14.


A. Shore, 'Well-known Art Dealer Dies'.