Skip to main content

Coming to visit? Ticketed entry is in place to safely manage your visit so please book ahead. Need to cancel or rejig? Email bookings@npg.gov.au

Menu

The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

The artist and the doctor

Nora Heysen and Robert Black’s passionate relationship bloomed against a backdrop of global conflict.

1 Robert H. Black MD, c. 1950. 2 Self portrait, 1934. Both Nora Heysen AM. © Lou Klepac.

Nora Heysen was the first woman to be appointed an official Australian War Artist, in 1943. She was deployed to New Guinea the following year, where she met Dr Robert Hughes Black, a pathologist working to prevent and treat malaria in Australian troops. The pair fell deeply in love and acted on it, creating a fraught situation as Black was married with a young son. The artist would later describe it as ‘my first love affair’. The couple finally married in 1953, immediately following Black’s divorce, and after already living together in Sydney, which scandalised Heysen’s family. The artist’s 1950 portrait of Black shows the man she adored: dignified, thoughtful and handsome, in three-quarter profile. This painting remained in Heysen’s possession for over 40 years, until she donated it to the Portrait Gallery in 1999, when the institution also purchased her 1934 self-portrait.

That’s one to get your heart started! You are 9 stories away from seeing your love score...

Choose your next love story

Related information

The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance
The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance
The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance
The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance

The Gallery

Visit us, learn with us, support us or work with us! Here’s a range of information about planning your visit, our history and more!

The National Portrait Gallery building at night
The National Portrait Gallery building at night
The National Portrait Gallery building at night
The National Portrait Gallery building at night

Support your Portrait Gallery

We depend on your support to keep creating our programs, exhibitions, publications and building the amazing portrait collection!

Visiting the Gallery
Visiting the Gallery
Visiting the Gallery
Visiting the Gallery

Plan your visit

Timed ticketing, location, accessibility and amenities

© National Portrait Gallery 2021
King Edward Terrace, Parkes
Canberra, ACT 2600, Australia

Phone +61 2 6102 7000
Fax +61 2 6102 7001
ABN: 54 74 277 1196

The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

The National Portrait Gallery is an Australian Government Agency