PART OF HISTORY: Jacq Cronin with the stunning mural she created paying homage to Jules Francois Archibald.
PART OF HISTORY: Jacq Cronin with the stunning mural she created paying homage to Jules Francois Archibald. Robert Waye Photography

MURAL: Maryborough's tie to nation's most coveted art prize

MARYBOROUGH'S connection to Australia's most coveted art prize is the subject of the city's latest mural.

The mural portrays Jules Francois Archibald, a journalist who was born in Victoria in 1856 whose generosity would establish the Archibald Prize.

Artist Jacq Cronin painted the mural, which is located at the corner of Bazaar and Kent St, opposite Toast.

"Jacq Cronin was the artist for this mural," Deborah Hannam, co-founder of the Maryborough Mural Project, said.

"She is based in south-east Queensland and known for her very colourful palette.

"Her family calls the Wide Bay their home.

"We are very grateful to Jacq for contributing her skills to the project and thereby increasing our project's art assets."

Archibald was unsuccessful in finding work after being a cadet reporter with the Daily Telegraph, so he joined the Victorian Education Department as a clerk in 1876.

Born John Feltham, it was then the 20-year-old refashioned himself as a Frenchman, adopting his new name of Archibald.

In 1878 he moved to Maryborough and was a clerk with the Maryborough engineering firm John Walker & Co, earning five pounds a week.

He was sent by Walker's to the Palmer goldfield, feeding quartz into Walker's crushing mill and looking after its operations.

Archibald lived in a hut with miners and survived a food shortage, a snake bite and an outbreak of fever.

That is when his concern for the underprivileged came to the fore.

Upon returning to Sydney, and at just 23 years of age, Archibald returned to his journalistic roots and published the Bulletin alongside his friend, John Haynes.

It's circulation was poor initially, but it soon grew into a strong and influential publication.

In 1902 when his health began to fail, Archibald handed over the editorship, but had a hand in creating two other publications later in his life.

He died following an operation in September, 1919.

Archibald's wife had died before him and they had no children.

In his will, be left a sum of money to be given as a prize each year for the best portrait painted by an Australian artist each year in what would become known as the Archibald Prize.

Another sum was left to build a fountain in Sydney to commemorate the connection between France and Australia after the First World War.

Other amounts were left to charity.