Born in 1890 in Creswick, Victoria, Daryl Lindsay was a member of the Lindsay artist family. Brother to Lionel and Norman. Prior to World War I, he became a jackaroo near Collarenebri and later served in the war in France. In England he became a medical artist for the AIF.
He made many contacts in the art world, studied at the Slade School of Art in London and in 1940 was curator of the National Gallery of Victoria, becoming director from 1942 to 1956. He became a member of the Commonwealth Art Advisory Board in 1953.