Born in Melbourne in 1923 David Armfield studied at the National Gallery Art School from 1940 to 1941 when he left to serve in World War Two. He returned to the National Gallery School in 1946 under the Rehabilitation Training Scheme, and was awarded the Hugh Ramsay Prize for Portraiture in 1948. The prize was given for a work he painted in Sir William Dargie's class 'Woman in a Green Dress' in a deliberately rebellious style that Dargie would have associated with the teachings of Alan Summer. He also studied printmaking at RMIT in 1948.
Upon his return from World War Two Armfield did some freelance cartooning for various newspapers and also worked for the Argus and Herald as a Press Artist. In 1965 he began painting full-time doing landscapes, etchings, genre paintings and commissioned works. With his wife, potter Joan Armfield, he travelled and painted in Italy, Greece and France.
Part of the Australian Social Realist Art Movement Armfield said that he chose social realism in the broader sense, noting that the subject needed to say something about realism without being photographic (Begg, 1988). Art critic Mary Eagle has described Armfield as belonging 'more to the older enduring order of artists who painted their personal vision of things as we might see them' (Eagle, 1980).
Armfield's works are represented in public collections across Australia and are held in private collections in England, France, America, Italy and Australia. He has held both solo and group exhibitions across Australia, and his work has been included in exhibitions in both Italy and Poland. From 1975 he began primarily holding at home sales and lessened his involvement in the exhibition scene. He has been awarded the Camberwell Rotary Art Prize (1967), Redcliffe Prize (1967), Wodonga Prize (1968), P.C.A. Prize (1969), Albury Caltex Prize (1970), Eltham Prize (1980), Burke Hall Prize (1985), Heidelberg Prize (1985) and the Dromana Prize (1985).
Begg, Sue (1988). The Serene Paintings of David Armfield. School of Fine Art, Phillip Institute of Technology.
Eagle, Mary (1980). 'David Armfield from the Inside' The Age, 24 July, p.10
McCulloch, Alan., McCulloch, Susan. & McCulloch-Childs, Emily (2006). The New McCulloch's Encyclopedia of Australian Art. 4th Edition, Aus Art Melbourne & The Miegunyah Press, p. 216