# 33744

REILLY, Virgil Gavan (1892 - 1975)

Lady Backer (at coursing)

  • Sold

Pen and ink on card, 360 x 260 mm (image), captioned lower centre ‘Lady Backer (at coursing) – “If you please I would like to have a shilling on the tin hare’, signed lower left. Framed.

A fine pen and ink by the talented Virgil Reilly, almost certainly drawn for publication in the Sydney magazine Smith’s Weekly where he was employed as staff artist from 1920 – 1950. Virgil’s drawings often featured attractive young women navigating their way through the underworld of Sydney, many of which were compiled in the standalone publication Darlinghurst Nights in 1932.

The sport of coursing in Australia involved greyhounds racing each other with a live rabbit as their prey, the conclusion of the race involving the unfortunate demise of the bunny. In 1927 the ‘tin hare’ mechanism was introduced from the United States, which allowed the hounds to compete without the loss of life. This innovation popularised the sport, resulting on a backlash from conservatives who railed against the proliferation of gambling in working-class Depression-era communities. In Virgil’s wry illustration, the young woman is on to a winner with her wager, as reflected in the expression of the bookmakers – the tin hare always survives to race another day.


Theodore Bruce Auctions, The Etchings of John B Godson & Other Multiples, Sydney, 25/10/2021, Lot No. 6831

Lawsons, Australian and European Paintings, Sydney, 27/07/1999, Lot No. 396