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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.

Peter Weiss, 2016

by Nicholas Harding

oil on linen
155 x 102 cm
Collection of Nicholas Harding and Lynne Watkins

Peter Weiss AO (b. 1935), cultural benefactor, was born into a well-to-do family in Vienna, from which they fled in the late 1930s. In cramped quarters in Sydney, his mother baked cakes and stitched delicate garments while his father went to work for an apron manufacturer. Meanwhile, they took care to expose the young Weiss to what culture there was in the city. He learned the cello, graduating from the Conservatorium. Having moved to London to further his studies, he gave up the instrument. On return to Sydney he became a successful garment salesman, inching, at home and by night, into manufacturing. In 1975 he and his then-wife Adele launched a pioneering line of separates. They quickly became successful, and remained so over the 1980s, but they divorced in 1990, and in 1997 Weiss gladly renounced the fashion business. Through the 1990s he sponsored concerts at St James’s Church in Sydney. He was one of the early sponsors of a ‘chair’ in the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and the founding president of the Maestro Circle in 2009. His gift of a million dollars established the Instrument Fund of the Australian Chamber Orchestra; in 2016, he bought a 1729 Guarneri cello for the company. He purchased Peter Sculthorpe’s house from the composer’s estate and regularly hosts music events in its studio. Hee has made very significant donations to the Opera House. Weiss was among the first members of the Art Gallery of New South Wales Foundation when it was established in 1983 and was made a life governor of the gallery in 2009. Recently he purchased a huge sculpture for the institution.

Harding has painted Weiss in the colours of his many paintings of peonies, looking like a jaded old king about to start up with a roar.

Related information

David Marr, 2011 by Nicholas Harding
David Marr, 2011 by Nicholas Harding
David Marr, 2011 by Nicholas Harding
David Marr, 2011 by Nicholas Harding

Through thick and thin

Magazine article by Dr Sarah Engledow, 2017

Sarah Engledow likes the manifold mediums of Nicholas Harding’s portraiture.

Hugo at home (Hugo Weaving), 2011 Nicholas Harding
Hugo at home (Hugo Weaving), 2011 Nicholas Harding
Hugo at home (Hugo Weaving), 2011 Nicholas Harding
Hugo at home (Hugo Weaving), 2011 Nicholas Harding

Nicholas Harding

28 Portraits

Previous exhibition, 2017

Nicholas Harding: 28 portraits features paintings of Robert Drewe, John Bell and Hugo Weaving alongside gorgeously coloured recent oil portraits, delicate gouaches and bold ink and charcoal drawings.

The National Portrait Gallery
The National Portrait Gallery
The National Portrait Gallery

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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.