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Dressing for dinner
, 1992

by Davida Allen

oil on plywood (frame: 188 cm x 299.5 cm, support: 173 cm x 284 cm)

The Hon Bill Hayden AC (b. 1933) was Governor-General of Australia from 1989 to 1996, having been Leader of the Opposition from 1977 to 1983 and Labor member for the Federal seat of Oxley from 1961 to 1988. At one time an officer in the Queensland Police Force, Hayden later held a number of government portfolios, including Foreign Affairs (1983-1988). He was named Australian Humanist of the Year in 1996.

Davida Allen, painter, novelist and filmmaker, painted this double portrait of Bill Hayden and his wife Dallas while Hayden was Governor-General. Showing the couple at Government House on the shore of Lake Burley Griffin, it was considered a stand-out entry in the generally lacklustre Archibald Prize of 1993. Allen had won the Prize six years before with a similar-sized portrait of her father-in-law, Dr John Shera, watering his garden.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Gift of the artist 1999
Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program
Accession number: 1998.27