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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.

In the mirror: self portrait with Joy Hester

1939
Albert Tucker

gelatin silver photograph on paper (sheet: 40.3 cm x 30.3 cm, image: 35.5 cm x 26.7 cm)

Albert Tucker AO (1914–1999) was one of the strongest Australian painters of the twentieth century. His expressionistic style of painting was formed during the wartime years, when the city of Melbourne took on a strange and unreal atmosphere. His first major series of paintings, collectively titled Images of Modern Evil, was painted between 1945 and 1947. Throughout the 1950s Tucker lived in Europe and the United States, where he refined and extended his subjects, concentrating on Australian myths, which he saw as central to the definition of national identity. Although best known as a painter, Tucker was an enthusiastic photographer, who took many of the now-familiar photographs of Melbourne’s artistic circles of the 1940s. In this one, the artist appears with his first wife, Joy Hester, who shared with him a vigorous and deeply felt approach to making art.

Joy Hester (1920–1960) was the only female member of the group of artists known as the Angry Penguins, which included Tucker, Sidney Nolan and Arthur Boyd. During her lifetime Hester’s contribution was overshadowed by those of her male contemporaries, but her work is now widely acknowledged, especially her drawings, which are characterised by intense imagery and ability to convey states of mind and emotions. Hester’s life was beset by sadness. Diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease at the age of twenty-seven, she left Tucker for a fellow artist, Gray Smith, leaving her son, Sweeney, with her friends John and Sunday Reed. Despite her prognosis, she had two children with Smith, and continued to work through the thirteen years until her death at the age of forty. A dramatic documentary film about Hester, The Good Looker, was made in 1995 and there were separate major exhibitions of her work at the Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne and the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra in 2001.

Gift of the artist 1999. Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program.

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. Works of art from the collection are reproduced as per the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). The use of images of works from the collection may be restricted under the Act. Requests for a reproduction of a work of art can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

Artist and subject

Joy Hester (age 19 in 1939)

Albert Tucker (age 25 in 1939)

Subject professions

Visual arts and crafts

Donated by

Albert Tucker (1 portrait)

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In the mirror: self portrait with Joy Hester
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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 past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

This website comprises and contains copyrighted materials and works. Copyright in all materials and/or works comprising or contained within this website remains with the National Portrait Gallery and other copyright owners as specified.

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. The use of images of works of art reproduced on this website and all other content may be restricted under the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). Requests for a reproduction of a work of art or other content can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

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