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Sir William Dargie

A Ninetieth Birthday Tribute

Monday 3 June until Sunday 25 August 2002

As a tribute to Sir William Dargie's singular contribution to Australian art and cultural institutions, and on the occasion of his birthday, The Australian War Memorial, Parliament House and the National Portrait Gallery will mount exhibitions of his work between May and October. A number of works from the National Gallery of Australia will be included in the National Portrait Gallery display and a commemorative brochure to mark the celebrations has been produced.

Albert Namatjira, 1958 by William Dargie
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Albert Namatjira, 1958 by William Dargie

On June 4 Sir William Dargie CBE will celebrate his 90th birthday. Sir William has had a significant and distinguished career as an artist and important role in the history of a number of Commonwealth institutions.

Dargie was an Australian official war artist during the Second World War in New Guinea, Greece, Crete, the Middle East and India and also worked closely on the development of the Australian War Memorial's first exhibition galleries.

Dargie has a special place in the history of Australian 20th century portraiture. He has won the Archibald prize a record eight times and painted scores of commissioned portraits.

Dargie has long been an advocate for a National Portrait Gallery. The National Portrait Gallery holds many of his best likenesses including Sir Macfarlane Burnet, Margaret Court and Sir Charles Kingsford Smith and Captain Charles Ulm.

He has painted the official portraits of two Prime Ministers (Fadden and McEwen), Governors-General, Chief Justices of the High Court and the Queen for the Historic Memorial's Committee, the commissioner of portraits of significant holders of office in the Australian government. These are held by in the Parliament House Art Collection in Canberra.

Dargie served on the Commonwealth Art Advisory Board for twenty years. The CAAB was committed to the development and of a National Collection prior to the establishment of the Acquisitions Committee of the Australian National Gallery in 1973. He was a member or the first interim Council of the ANG and a member of the working groups set up to advise on the design, and brief for the building of the National Gallery.