In 1939 he moved to Sydney and joined a students’ sketch club while attending evening-classes in etching at East Sydney Technical College. In 1940 an article in Art in Australia featured his drawings of animals drawn at Taronga Zoo and he held his first solo exhibition on 1 July 1942.
Considered by many to be at the forefront of developments in contemporary art in Sydney in the 1940s, Lymburner belonged to the Sydney Art Group (formed in 1945). Tom Bass was a friend and the artists who lived at Merioola, a Sydney based art group active in the 1940’s and early fifties. Francis’s romantic paintings—mainly of dancers, circus people and views of Sydney—were often associated with the ‘Sydney Charm School’.
Fifty Drawings by Francis Lymburner was published in 1946. In 1951 Lymburner wrote reviews for the S.M.H. and won the Mosman jubilee art prize. After a farewell exhibition at David Jone’s Art Gallery in 1952, Lymburner went to England. These years there were difficult and disappointing. Sales of works sold in Australia were his main income albeit small and he exhibited in only a few group shows in London. Lymburner returned to Sydney in February 1964 and although he exhibited widely he had little success. His style had become ‘painterly’ and powerfully expressionistic. In 1966 he suffered a cerebral haemorrhage and there are no known paintings dated after that year.
Fish Traps, Severn Estuary 1962
Ink on paper.
Gift of the Lymburner family in 1996.