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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.

Self portrait, 1992

Rolf Harris

oil on canvas (frame: 65.0 cm x 54.5 cm)
Image not available (NC)

Rolf Harris (b. 1930) was named the 5th most influential artist and entertainer of the 20th century in a millennial poll by Time magazine. National junior backstroke champion in 1946, Harris appeared on Australia's Amateur Hour while he was at university in Perth, singing Seven Beers with the Wrong Woman. In 1952 he left to study art in England, enrolling at the City & Guilds Art School upon arriving in London (in the mid-1950s his work was hung in the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition).He began his television career as a cartoonist-storyteller in London 1953. The song Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport became an international number one hit in 1960. Later recordings Jake the Peg and Two Little Boys - the latter Margaret Thatcher's favourite song - also topped the charts, as did a version of Stairway to Heaven in 1992. Since 1967 Harris has fronted The Rolf Harris Show , Rolf's Cartoon Club and Animal Hospital on UK TV. He made television history in 2001, when 6.8 million people watched the first episode of the BBC's Rolf On Art. Since then he has been credited with significantly raising broad public interest in art. In 2002, to coincide with the second series of Rolf on Art, the National Gallery in London mounted an exhibition of Harris's paintings alongside those of the artists who inspired him, including Monet, Degas, Van Gogh and Rousseau. Between 2004 and 2007, he filmed three series of the television program Star Portraits with Rolf Harris, a showcase for the work of professional portrait artists; he himself completed a remarkably informal commissioned portrait of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 2005. Harris’ legacy as entertainer and artist was irreparably damaged following his 2014 conviction and imprisonment for a number of sexual offences against teenage girls, with the crimes committed in the 1970s and 1980s. Subsequently stripped of his CBE and Order of Australia honours, amongst other awards, Harris was released in 2017 after serving three years in jail.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of the artist 1999

Accession number: 1999.42

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Rolf Harris (age 62 in 1992)

Related information

The Companion

Permanent collection catalogue

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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.

Portrait of Professor Graeme Clark, 2000 Peter Wegner
Portrait of Professor Graeme Clark, 2000 Peter Wegner
Portrait of Professor Graeme Clark, 2000 Peter Wegner
Portrait of Professor Graeme Clark, 2000 Peter Wegner

Portraits for Posterity

Previous exhibition, 2006

Drawn from some of the many donations made to the Gallery's collection, the exhibition Portraits for Posterity pays homage both to the remarkable (and varied) group of Australians who are portrayed in the portraits and the generosity of the many donors who have presented them to the 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.