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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.

Sir Macfarlane Burnet

late 1970s
Louis Kahan

pen and ink on paper (sheet: 56.7 cm x 38.6 cm)

Sir Frank Macfarlane Burnet OM AK KBE (1899-1985), medical scientist, was awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1960 for his work with Sir Peter Medawar on acquired immunological tolerance to tissue transplants. Burnet had earlier worked with Jean Macnamara to prove that there were at least two viruses causing poliomyelitis, and had isolated the Q fever bacterium, Coxiella burnetti. Much of his research was carried out at Melbourne's Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research, where he was Assistant Director from 1928 to 1931 and Director from 1944 to 1965. His successor, Sir Gustav Nossal, described Burnet as 'truly a lateral thinker, but a highly disciplined one.'

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 1998
© Louis Kahan/Copyright Agency, 2021

Artist and subject

Louis Kahan (age 65 in 1970)

Sir Frank MacFarlane Burnet OM AK KBE (age 71 in 1970)

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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.

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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.

The National Portrait Gallery is an Australian Government Agency