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Ticketed entry is in place to safely manage visits to the Gallery, so please book ahead.

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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.

Before hand

The private life of a portrait

Daily from Saturday 10 October 2020 until Sunday 21 March 2021

Bookings essential - free

Ticketed entry is in place for all visits to the Gallery.

A new exhibition revealing the backstories behind iconic works from the NPG collection and the creative and social process of making a portrait, Before hand features interviews with artists and sitters as well as rarely seen working drawings, scrapbooks, sketches and footage taken in artists’ studios and out on location. Featured portraits include photographer Narelle Autio’s portrait of champion cyclist Anna Meares, David Rosetsky’s double-exposure portrait of Australian singer and actress Jessica Mauboy, Peter Brew-Bevan’s working scrapbook for his portrait of dancer and ballet director David McAllister and the transparency drawings that allowed Evert Ploeg to construct his portrait of scientist Derek Denton.

This exhibition is supported by The Lord Glendonbrook CBE through the Lord Glendonbrook Foundation, assisting the National Portrait Gallery in providing access to the national portrait collection to ever more Australians.

See the portraits on display in Galleries Eight and Nine

1Study for commissioned portrait of HRH Crown Princess Mary of Denmark (profile head study), 2005 Jiawei Shen. 2Untitled (Study for 'Emily Kame Kngwarreye with Lily'), 1993 Jenny Sages. © Jenny Sages. 3Rosemary Valadon, 1995 Greg Weight. © Gregory Weight/Copyright Agency, 2020. 4Study for portrait of Helen Garner, 2003 Jenny Sages. © Jenny Sages.

Related information

Anna Meares, 2018 Narelle Autio
Anna Meares, 2018 Narelle Autio
Anna Meares, 2018 Narelle Autio
Anna Meares, 2018 Narelle Autio

Beforehand: The Private Life of a Portrait

In conversation: virtual event

Fri 6 Nov
12:30pm

In this hybrid tour and making experience we will take you on a behind-the-scenes journey through the portraits and the exhibition.

Collection display in Gallery Five, 2019
Collection display in Gallery Five, 2019
Collection display in Gallery Five, 2019
Collection display in Gallery Five, 2019

Collection display galleries

Current exhibition

Open every day

The collection display includes a wide selection of portraits that tell extraordinary stories of encounter, exploration, independence, individuality and achievement in Australia.

Jimmy Barnes at The Coogee Bay Hotel 1984 (detail) Grant Matthews
Jimmy Barnes at The Coogee Bay Hotel 1984 (detail) Grant Matthews
Jimmy Barnes at The Coogee Bay Hotel 1984 (detail) Grant Matthews
Jimmy Barnes at The Coogee Bay Hotel 1984 (detail) Grant Matthews

Pub Rock

Your backstage pass to 70s and 80s sounds and scenes

Current exhibition

from Saturday 5 September 2020

Celebrate the people, places and sounds of Australian pub rock and its enduring impact on our nation’s identity.

© Shirley Purdie/Copyright Agency, 2020
© Shirley Purdie/Copyright Agency, 2020
© Shirley Purdie/Copyright Agency, 2020
© Shirley Purdie/Copyright Agency, 2020

Ngalim-Ngalimbooroo Ngagenybe

Shirley Purdie

Current exhibition

from Saturday 6 June

Using ochres collected on her country in Western Australia’s East Kimberley, Shirley Purdie’s self-portrait is a kaleidoscope of traditional Gija stories and Ngarranggarni (Dreaming) passed down to her.

We would like to thank our partners.
© National Portrait Gallery 2020
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 both past and present.

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