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In 1943 he won the Archibald Prize, Australia's principal award for portraiture, for a painting of fellow-artist Joshua Smith.

The award was immediately challenged on the grounds that Dobell's entry showed a degree of distortion which made it a caricature rather than a true portrait, but the court upheld the judging panel's decision.

Resultant newspaper publicity greatly expanded interest in Dobell's work, but as a result of the controversy Dobell withdrew to to his sister's home at Wangi Wangi on Lake Macquarie, where he began to paint landscapes

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Q: What was the controversy of William Dobell's portrait in 1943?
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In 1943 William Dobell's winning painting of Joshua Smith was challenged in court because of claims from other finalists (Mary Edwards and Joseph Wolinski) that it was a caricature not a portrait. The court battle was very public and everyone had an opinion on it, it made Dobell a household name and all the commotion made the Archibald prize in Sydney the most popular art competition in all of Australia. The court case was dismissed and Dobell became sick because of the controversy and debate so he left the attention of Sydney to live in Wangi Wangi in Lake Macquarie.


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