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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.

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Designing the ideal marriage

There was something about his power of expression and his determination’, reflected Penelope Seidler on her spouse and fellow architect, Harry. There was also the refreshing contrast to the ‘other boys’, whose conversations concerned ‘cars and drinking beer’.

1 Harry Seidler, Killara, Sydney, 1984 (printed 2000) David Moore. © Lisa, Michael, Matthew and Joshua Moore http://davidmoorephotography.com.au/. 2 Harry and Penelope Seidler, 15 December 1958 John Hearder. Private collection. © Courtesy of Penelope Seidler. 3 Penelope Seidler, 2014 Fiona Lowry. Private collection. © Fiona Lowry Photo: © AGNSW.

According to Penelope, her husband Harry Seidler ‘was so … committed and so sincere and revolutionary … I could really see that he had drive’. Much of this drive was directed towards the application of modernist principles in architecture, with his vision seeing him winning every major Australian prize in the discipline. Among Seidler’s most noteworthy designs was ‘Killara’, the family home he and Penelope created. It won the 1967 Wilkinson Award, presented by the Royal Australian Institute of Architects for a design of outstanding merit. Harry’s portrait shows him seated in this space, evoking a quiet pride in his creation and career, while Fiona Lowry’s Archibald-winning 2014 painting of Penelope captures her expression as she looks back at Killara from behind the house, her countenance a mixture of grace and strength. In the 1950s studio portrait, the Seidlers appear the happy embodiment of glamorous modern Sydney.

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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.

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