Hughes’ wife, Doris Downes Hughes, said her husband had passed away peacefully at the Calvary Hospital in the Bronx, New York.

Hughes made his name as art critic for Time magazine in 1970, and went on to write seminal work The Art of Australia, which reviewed Australian painting from settlement until the 1960s.

He also wrote the provocative The Shock of the New book on modern art, also a BBC TV series.

Hughes’ other achievements include his best-selling book The Fatal Shore, an account of life for convicts during the early European settlement of Australia.

In 1999, Hughes had a head-on car crash while visiting Australia, from which he never completely recovered, according to his niece Lucy Turnbull – wife of Aussie MP Malcolm Turnbull.

Ms Turnbull told ABC Radio of her uncle: “He was a real man’s man … he was a very keen fisherman and shooter as well as being an erudite and very learned communicator and so knowledgeable in the arts.”

But she said of the car crash: “It was a life changing event … and climbing out of that experience was a very, very hard one, and one that was possibly never fully achieved.”

She added that he had been unwell “with a multiplicity of health problems”.

Though Hughes left Australia for Britain in the early 1960s and later lived in New York, he never relinquished his Aussie citizenship.

Our favourite Hughes quote? “So much of art has become a cruddy game for the self aggrandisement of the rich and the ignorant, it is a kind of bad but useful business.”

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