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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.

Barry Humphries, 1958

Clifton Pugh

oil on canvas (frame: 111.2 cm x 81.0 cm, support: 95.0 cm x 65.0 cm)

Barry Humphries AO CBE (b. 1934), actor, writer and artist, is the world’s all-time most successful solo theatrical performer. After studying law for two years, Humphries joined the Melbourne Theatre Company. In 1955 he created his archetypes of suburban mediocrity: Mrs Edna Everage, a Moonee Ponds mother and housewife, her longsuffering husband Norm, and the washed-out, ruminative Sandy Stone. From the late 1950s Humphries performed in his own one-man shows in Australia, Britain, Europe and the US, and Edna Everage held court with increasing flamboyance in shows including Housewife, Super-star; Edna, the Spectacle; and Eat Pray Laugh!, which Humphries announced would be her last. In 2000 Humphries won a Special Tony Award, a Drama Desk Award, a Theatre World Award, and an Outer Critics Circle Award. He was the subject of the National Portrait Gallery’s first large-scale biographical exhibition in 2002. His many books include two different autobiographies, More Please (1992) and My Life as Me (2002) as well as an autobiography of Edna Everage, My Gorgeous Life (1997) in which the meeting between Humphries and Everage is described in detail.

Clifton Pugh and Barry Humphries became friendly in the 1950s and Humphries sometimes went to stay at Dunmoochin, Pugh’s home in the bush near Melbourne. Pugh’s portrait of Humphries looking ‘haunted, angular and aesthetic’ – the very first work acquired by the National Portrait Gallery – was painted there. Through his association with Pugh, Humphries’s schoolboy interest in art revived, and Pugh helped him mount an exhibition of his works in the gallery of the Victorian Artists’ Society. The exhibition featured some collaborative collages by Humphries and Pugh and an installation of boxes of ‘Platytox’, a shocking product purportedly designed to eradicate the platypus and most marsupials. Humphries has continued to paint over the intervening years.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of L Gordon Darling AC CMG and Marilyn Darling AC 1998
Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program
© Shane Pugh

Accession number: 1998.1

Currently on display: Gallery Seven (Ian Potter Gallery)

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Artist and subject

Clifton Pugh (age 34 in 1958)

Barry Humphries (age 24 in 1958)

Subject professions

Performing arts

Donated by

L. Gordon Darling AC, CMG (6 portraits)

Related information

The Companion

Permanent collection catalogue

Café and shop

On one level The Companion talks about the most famous and frontline Australians, but on another it tells us about ourselves: who we read, who we watch, who we listen to, who we cheer for, who we aspire to be, and who we'll never forget. The Companion is available to buy online and in the Portrait Gallery Store.

Gordon Darling interview video: 2 minutes
Gordon Darling interview video: 2 minutes
Gordon Darling interview video: 2 minutes
Gordon Darling interview video: 2 minutes

Gordon Darling

by Jiawei Shen

Portrait story

Gordon Darling talks about how Jiawei Shen came to paint his portrait.

Marilyn Darling interview video: 2 minutes
Marilyn Darling interview video: 2 minutes
Marilyn Darling interview video: 2 minutes
Marilyn Darling interview video: 2 minutes

Marilyn Darling

by Anne Zahalka

Portrait story

Marilyn Darling talks about the creation of her portrait, and the photographic process.

Marilyn Darling AC, 2010 Anne Zahalka
Marilyn Darling AC, 2010 Anne Zahalka
Marilyn Darling AC, 2010 Anne Zahalka
Marilyn Darling AC, 2010 Anne Zahalka

Support Crew

Magazine article by Dr Christopher Chapman, 2011

Portraits of philanthropists in the collection honour their contributions to Australia and acknowledge their support of the National Portrait Gallery.

We would like to thank our partners.
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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.