Greetings from Australia
Long before the six white boomers of Rolf Harris and Christmas cards of Ken Done, Lionel Lindsay created uniquely Australian greeting cards. From the cattle dog stealing the Christmas turkey to the big boomer acting as Santa Claus, and native animals toasting in the New Year, Lindsay’s cards took a whimsical look at how ordinary Australians and our native wildlife might celebrate the festive season.
In 1908 these greeting cards reflected the developing character of the young, newly federated nation. Each card emphasises the outback and some truly Australian traits. Lindsay’s New Year cartoons capture an instinctive optimism – tempered by the knowledge that potential disaster is never far away.
And in the time-honoured tradition of humanising animals, a kangaroo and his mates – the kookaburra, platypus, koala, possum and cockatoo – toast the festive season with a beer.
You have to wonder what the family ‘back home’ thought of these images, full of humans facing imminent disaster and weird animals consuming beer. And not a snowflake or Christmas tree in sight!
From a famous family of artists – his brothers Norman, Daryl and Percy, and his sister Ruby were all professional artists – Lionel Lindsay was a black-and-white artist, watercolour painter, book illustrator, and one of Australia’s master printmakers.
He was a cartoonist for some of Australia’s most famous periodicals, including The Bulletin and The Lone Hand, and illustrated the books of some of our best-known writers – Henry Lawson, Banjo Paterson and Steele Rudd.
Lindsay’s subjects were country life, swagmen, the outback, bush and farmyard animals, and he became noted for his etchings and engravings of Australian birds and animals. He was also a writer and art critic, and was implacably opposed to modernism.
In 1921 Lionel Lindsay became the first president of the Australian Painter–Etchers’ Society. He was a trustee of the Art Gallery of New South Wales from 1918 to 1929 and again from 1934 to 1949, and was knighted for his services to Australian art in 1941.