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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.

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

Here’s looking at you, kid

Claude-Marie Dubufe featured regularly in the Paris Salon, often with excessive, mannered portraits favoured by those seeking pleasing likenesses of their ladies. This one ended up in an Italianate villa at the opposite end of the earth.

The daughter of a Scottish clergyman, Jessie Eyre Williams (née Gibbon) arrived in the unkempt settlement on Port Phillip Bay around a year after her 1841 marriage to lawyer Edward Eyre Williams. In 1847, he and Jessie took up residence in a mansion near the Yarra River. Named ‘Como’ after the Italian lake where the pair were engaged, and fashioned from local mudstone, the elegant house was the scene of ‘entertainments’ in keeping with the profile of its occupants, whose list of acquaintances included those who passed for ‘Society’ in muddy, pre-‘Marvellous’ Melbourne. Incongruously, an inventory of Como’s contents might have listed this portrait of Jessie painted in Paris in 1833. Captioned ‘Is he thinking of me?’ it shows her wistfully contemplating a small framed work, presumably a portrait of her suitor. Williams sold Como in 1852; the family moved to St. Kilda where they remained until returning to Britain in 1874.

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

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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.

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