MACLEOD, William (1850-1929)


MACLEOD, William (1850-1929)
artist, and partner in the Bulletin
was born in London on 27 October 1850. His father was of Highland stock, his mother was partly Cornish and partly German. Brought out to Australia in his fifth year his father died about a year later. His mother went to Sydney where she married James Anderson a portrait painter of the period. Unhappily Anderson became a drunkard and the boy had a miserable childhood. At 12 years of age he obtained a position with a photographer, and he began studying at a school of arts where he won prizes. Five years later he was earning enough to be able to make a home for his mother. He did much work as a painter and as a designer in stained glass, and for a time was a drawing master at schools. When still in his early twenties he began contributing drawings to the Sydney Mail, the Illustrated Sydney News, the Town and Country Journal, etc. He also obtained a reputation as a portrait painter whose work was hung at exhibitions of the Art Societies in both Sydney and Melbourne. For many years he was hardworking and successful. When the Bulletin was started in 1880 he had a drawing in the first number, and for the next two years was a regular contributor. He then became one of the artists for the Picturesque Atlas of Australasia and did a large number of illustrations for it, including most of the portraits. When he was approaching the end of this work J. F. Archibald (q.v.), who had been impressed by his business methods when a contributor to the Bulletin, asked him to join the staff. He became business manager in September 1887, soon acquired an interest in the paper, and for nearly 40 years was actively engaged in the management of it. He also read all the proofs with a watchful eye for possible libel actions. At one period he owned three-fourths of the paper, but recognizing the value of Archibald's work for it, he handed over to him one-fourth as a gift. He practically gave up working as an artist, but took a special interest in the cartoonists. His greatest discovery was David Low. Towards the end of his life he took up painting again, became interested in sculpture, and did a good deal of modelling. In 1926 he retired from the Bulletin and died on 24 June 1929. He married (1) Emily Collins in 1873 and (2) in 1911 Conor O'Brien, who survived him with one son and two daughters of the first marriage.
Macleod was a man of medium height, bearded, and kindly in expression. He was a first-rate business man, shrewd and just, with a genius for friendship. One of the employees in the printing office of the Bulletin said that if all employers were like him the legal machinery for the settlement of industrial disputes would go out of use. His illustrations in the Picturesque Atlas of Australasia are excellent. Stained glass windows from his designs will be found in St Benedict's, Sydney, St John the Baptist at Queanbeyan, the Church of England at Duntroon and the chapel at Long Bay penitentiary. Many of his original drawings for the Picturesque Atlas are at the Mitchell library, Sydney.
Mrs Macleod, Macleod of the Bulletin; The Lone Hand, 1907 and 1908; The Bulletin, 26 June 1929.

Dictionary of Australian Biography by PERCIVAL SERLE. . 1949.

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