Support the Gallery
The National Portrait Gallery seeks to increase the understanding and appreciation of the Australian people – their identity, creativity and culture – through portraiture. The Gallery aims to develop and maintain an outstanding collection of high quality Australian portraits across time and media that reflects the diversity and culture of Australia.
You can personally support the Gallery through gifts, bequests and donations. Your support allows the Gallery to continue to develop a representative collection of significant portraits of subjects who have had a major impact upon Australia.
The National Portrait Gallery is endorsed as a Deductible Gift Recipient with the Australian Taxation Office and donations to the institution are tax deductible. For further information, please visit the Making tax deductible gifts page on the ATO's website.
A gift of a portrait to the National Portrait Gallery helps strengthen and develop the collection. The Gallery acknowledges the generous support of individuals who have contributed to the Gallery’s development by inclusion on the Gallery’s Honour Board.
The Gallery has established categories for levels of donor support. Please click here to view the Donor Recognition Policy.
You can also support the Gallery by becoming a member of the Circle of Friends. By joining the Circle of Friends you will have a chance to participate in a wide range of programs and enjoy special Friends activities.
The Circle of Friends supports the development of the National Portrait Gallery Collection through the annual Circle of Friends Acquisition Fund. Most recently, the Fund acquired Rick Amor’s portrait of Australian author, David Malouf. This year the Fund is assisting the acquisition of a portrait of a remarkable collaboration.
Painted in London in 1910 by Tom Roberts, one of the finest Australian artists of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, the portrait is a rarity. It is one of only five known examples of the collaboration between Roberts and his wife, the frame maker Lillie Roberts, and what confirms the portrait’s special interest is Lillie Roberts is not only the creator of its frame but also the subject of the portrait itself.
Tom Roberts is most often discussed in the context of the Australian plein air landscape tradition and in the company of Arthur Streeton and Charles Conder. However, portraits were Roberts’ bread and butter: more than half his paintings between 1885 and 1900 were portraits.
The National Portrait Gallery has acquired four portraits by Roberts of artistic and political figures so it’s fitting to now acquire for the collection a portrait of a subject with whom he was intimately connected.
Mrs Tom Roberts, 1910
by Tom Roberts , oil on canvas
Elizabeth Sarah (Lillie) Roberts (née Williamson, 1860-1928), artist and frame maker, studied at the National Gallery School in Melbourne in the early 1880s before a period spent travelling in Europe. She exhibited paintings with the Victorian Artist’s Society between 1888 and 1892; and appears to have started making frames during the 1890s. She married artist Tom Roberts, a family friend, after a long courtship, in April 1896 and then moved to Sydney, where their only child, Caleb, was born in 1898. In 1903, dispirited at the lack of patronage in Australia, Roberts took his family to London, where Lillie trained in woodcarving and gilding. She later received a number of awards for her picture frames, examples of which were exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1908 and the Imperial Exhibition in 1909. They returned to Australia in 1923 and settled in the Dandenongs, where Lillie died in 1928.
Tom Roberts came to Australia from England at the age of 13, but returned to study art in London. He arrived back in Melbourne in 1885 and established a successful portrait practice. At the same time, he began to paint outdoors with a number of other artists who came to be known as the ‘Heidelberg School’. Having lobbied hard for the establishment of a collection of portraits of Australian statesmen, he moved to England in 1903. There, he completed his vast The Big Picture of the opening of the Australian Parliament. In 1908, noting that he had already written to Edmund Barton on the same theme, Roberts wrote to the Prime Minister, Alfred Deakin, saying ‘you ought even now to be getting together a National Portrait Gallery. I know the whereabouts of some things.’ He returned permanently to Australia in 1923, settling at Kallista in the Dandenongs. There, he mostly painted small landscapes and flower pieces.
Donors of portraits may also be eligible for tax benefits under the Federal Government’s Cultural Gifts Program, which encourages greater corporate and personal philanthropy towards the arts in Australia.
The Cultural Gifts Program provides tax incentives to encourage gifts of culturally significant items from private collections to public art galleries, museums, libraries and archives. Donors can take pride in the knowledge that their gifts contribute to the development of Australia’s public collections. The donations also help to preserve Australia’s cultural heritage for the benefit of present and future generations.
The Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts administers the program in accordance with the gift provisions of the Income tax law and with the advice of an expert committee, the Committee on Taxation Incentives for the Arts.
The corporate community plays a vital role in assisting to further the expansion of the Gallery’s programs, the range of our exhibitions and to assist with the ongoing development of our collection. The National Portrait Gallery actively encourages partnerships between the business sector and the arts and endeavours to develop unique and continuing partnerships with our corporate supporters. To discuss current sponsorship opportunities at the Gallery or to discuss ways you can support the Gallery, please contact Joyce Deady, Sponsorship Coordinator on (02) 6102 7049 or
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