Burgess was only son of a former Royal Naval lieutenant, James Ogle Burgess, who emigrated to Tasmania in 1872. There he became a government employee and land surveyor, and he was also a competent topographical artist. As a result of helping J. R. Scott and R. M. Johnston in their survey of south-east Tasmania he met and married Dinah Eleanor (‘Nellie’) Evans of Newtown, the sister of Scott’s wife, and subsequently became a district surveyor in New South Wales. Their son Arthur was born at Bombala (halfway between Sydney and Melbourne) on 6th January 1879 and was brought up in Grafton and Lismore, NSW. In his later Who’s Who entry he said he was educated at ‘Hutchins, Hobart [Tasmania] and Armidale, NSW’; the latter was the then-new Armidale School, founded on the pattern of an English public school in 1894. After leaving, he completed a three-year apprenticeship with P. F. Spencer, a Sydney architect, but with an early talent in art and an interest in marine painting, used his leisure time to sketch in Sydney Harbour. He took evening drawing classes with Frank Mahoney (1863–1916), painter and Sydney Bulletin illustrator, and later enrolled as a pupil of the Australian seascape painter William Lister Lister (1859–1943). Lister had trained as a marine engineer in England but returned to Sydney as an artist in 1888 and was later President of the Australian Royal Art Society.

Text source: Art Detective

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