Skip to main content

The National Portrait Gallery is temporarily closed to the public until further notice.

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.

A boy’s best friend is his mother

‘In my own thoughts I promised her and myself that I would never leave her while she lived’, wrote Percy Grainger of his mother. ‘This thought became my only religion, and although I was too weak a character to carry out the thought as I should, it never disappeared.’

Pianist, composer and folk-music aficionado Percy Grainger (1882–1961) is known for his unconventional, obsessive relationships, but perhaps the most curious of these was with his mother, Rose. She devoted herself to the professional and social advancement of her only child, and her influence pervaded every aspect of his life, including his sexual relationships. Percy complied almost wholly with his mother’s directions, committing himself to fulfilling her plans to the extent that he become a renowned concert pianist. Rose’s death by suicide, triggered by false rumours of an incestuous relationship, and the long-lasting effects of syphilis – contracted from Percy’s philandering father – left Percy heartbroken, but ever-devoted. Writing to a friend of his intention to establish The Grainger Museum at the University of Melbourne, Percy confessed: ‘I am all in life that remains of my beloved mother, and I wish to live so as to make her as sweetly remembered as possible.’

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 past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

This website comprises and contains copyrighted materials and works. Copyright in all materials and/or works comprising or contained within this website remains with the National Portrait Gallery and other copyright owners as specified.

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. The use of images of works of art reproduced on this website and all other content may be restricted under the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). Requests for a reproduction of a work of art or other content can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

The National Portrait Gallery is an Australian Government Agency