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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.

The Portrait Gallery

Wangaratta, Monday - News reached here at ten o’clock yesterday morning that the hell-hound Morgan was shot at Peechelba station, on the Ovens river, about twenty-three miles from Wangaratta... Your reporter at once started off for the station, and arrived there shortly after one o’clock, at which time Morgan was lying at the point of death, and about thirty persons witnessing his dying agonies.

The Age April 1865

Photography played a significant role in the circulation of messages about law and order, and in the creation of sensation and celebrity. Photographers were working in Australia as early as 1842, but it was during the succeeding decades that photographs became widely available, the popularity and accessibility of portrait photography reaching a highpoint with the introduction to the local market of the carte de visite in 1859. These small photographs were produced in such a way that made them affordable, portable, and easily circulated or exchanged, and for these reasons they proved adaptable to a variety of purposes – official, commercial and personal. 

In an era before the existence of police photographers, the authorities commissioned commercial operators to document prisoners, crime scenes and inquests, or collected existing portraits of wanted offenders for copying and distribution. Innocent studio portraits became the basis for the wood engravings of criminals published in illustrated newspapers, the exploits of the Kelly gang notably proving a boon to photographers and graphic artists.

For those seeking the rewards on offer for outlaws, trophy-style photographs of slain bushrangers were proof of the legitimacy of one’s claim, while for those requiring a conversation starter for the family album, portraits of dead reprobates made suitably peculiar souvenirs.

6 portraits

1 Andrew George Scott, alias Captain Moonlite, c.1879 attributed to Charles Nettleton. 2 Daniel Morgan, bushranger, shot at Pechelba [sic] Station, April 9th 1865.

Related information

Ned Kelly death mask
Ned Kelly death mask
Ned Kelly death mask
Ned Kelly death mask

Sideshow Alley

Infamy, the macabre & the portrait

Previous exhibition, 2015

Death masks, post-mortem drawings and other spooky and disquieting portraits... Come and see how portraits of infamous Australians were used in the 19th century.

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

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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

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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.

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.

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