The works in the John Schaeffer Gallery traverse the decades between the First and Second World Wars and the contrasting influences on Australian society, politics and culture in this period. Internationally significant inter-war achievements in fields such as science, aviation and business are represented via portraits of sitters like Douglas Mawson, Charles Kingsford Smith, Sidney Myer and Frank Packer; while Australia’s role in the realm of women’s rights and social justice is seen with the portraits of Jessie Street, Mary Gilmore and Doc Evatt. The influence of modern art movements on local art and portraiture is also in particular evidence, the John Schaeffer Gallery being where the work of artists such as Arthur Boyd, Grace Cossington Smith, William Dobell and Max Dupain is introduced.
The John Schaeffer Gallery is named after John Schaeffer AO, one of the National Portrait Gallery’s most significant supporters and a member of the Gallery Board from 2000 until 2005. A major contributor of funds enabling the acquisition of John Webber’s Portrait of Captain James Cook RN, John Schaeffer also donated to the Gallery George Lambert’s Self-portrait with gladioli 1924 – another Collection highlight on display in this room.
Collection display galleries
The collection display includes a wide selection of portraits that tell extraordinary stories of encounter, exploration, independence, individuality and achievement in Australia. Visitors to the Gallery can follow the development of portraiture from oil painting to digital media.Entry is free.