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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.

Mysterious eyes

Arthur Boyd portraits from 1945

Previous exhibition from Wednesday 4 May 2016 until Sunday 14 August 2016
Self portrait, 1945-46 Arthur Boyd
Self portrait, 1945-46 Arthur Boyd

A young man whose soft features betrayed the intensity of his own self-image, Arthur Boyd (1920-1999) portrayed others with equally concentrated emotion. He would become one of Australia’s most loved and renowned artists.

Prickly hot summers and wet winters, long grass and overgrown gardens alive with insects imprinted young Arthur’s brain. His protection of the family’s chickens earned him the affectionate nick-name chookie-boy, his shaggy hair and mended clothes marked him as different from the other school kids.

Arthur’s extended family was loving and accepted everyone’s quirks. The value of artistic exploration was natural to generations of Boyds. Adolescent Arthur’s warm and light landscape paintings had morphed into darker expressionistic heads by his late teens.

At age 25 Arthur produced a burst of portraits of those close to him, and through his eyes they are a reflection of the artist’s own state of mind.

For this focus exhibition five portraits from around 1945 have been borrowed from the National Gallery of Australia (Douglas Woods, Pauline Ford, Ian Bassett, Stanley Holt and Carl Cooper, all Arthur Boyd Gift 1975) along with Boyd’s portrait of his wife Yvonne from the Bundanon Trust, to complement three held by the National Portrait Gallery.

4 portraits

1Carl Cooper, 1945-46 Arthur Boyd. 2Betty Burstall, 1945 Arthur Boyd. 3Arthur Boyd’s studio (1945, not dated) by Albert Tucker.

Related people

Arthur Boyd

Related information

Arthur Boyd's studio
Arthur Boyd's studio
Arthur Boyd's studio
Arthur Boyd's studio

Boyd to man

Magazine article by Dr Christopher Chapman, 2016

Christopher Chapman looks at influences and insight in the formative years of Arthur Boyd.

Self Portrait in red shirt, 1937 by Arthur Boyd
Self Portrait in red shirt, 1937 by Arthur Boyd
Self Portrait in red shirt, 1937 by Arthur Boyd
Self Portrait in red shirt, 1937 by Arthur Boyd

Arthur as Alyosha?

Magazine article by Patrick McCaughey, 2015

Patrick McCaughey explores a striking Boyd self portrait.

Artist and wife near Arthurs Seat, 1969
Artist and wife near Arthurs Seat, 1969
Artist and wife near Arthurs Seat, 1969
Artist and wife near Arthurs Seat, 1969

Through blue eyes

Magazine article by Dr Sarah Engledow, 2009

Works by Arthur Boyd and Sidney Nolan bring the desert, the misty seashore and the hot Monaro plains to exhibition Open Air: Portraits in the landscape.

Charles, 2015 video: 7 minutes
Charles, 2015 video: 7 minutes
Charles, 2015 video: 7 minutes
Charles, 2015 video: 7 minutes

Digital Portraiture Award 2016

Previous exhibition, 2016

An annual event to extend traditional notions of portraiture and foster emerging artists with an interest in new technology.

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.