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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 George Grey, c. 1845

Theresa Walker

cast wax (frame: 18.8 cm x 18.8 cm depth 3.5 cm diameter 19.0 cm)

Sir George Grey (1812–1898), soldier, explorer and colonial administrator, arrived in Western Australia in 1838 to conduct an expedition by which he proposed to locate a site for settlement on the north-west coast. The attempt failed, but he remained in the colony and was appointed resident magistrate at Albany in August 1839. Later that year he married Eliza Spencer (c. 1819–1898). During his time in Albany, Grey studied local Aboriginal culture, publishing his findings as Vocabulary of the Dialects spoken by the Aboriginal Races of South-Western Australia. Recalled to England, he produced an account of his Western Australian expeditions before being appointed Governor of South Australia in October 1840. In South Australia he introduced drastic and much-resented spending cuts, though over five years he nearly balanced the colony’s budget. His intractability marred his subsequent two terms as Governor of New Zealand – from 1848 to 1853 and again from 1861 to 1868 – and his term as Governor of the Cape Colony (between 1854 and 1861). His approach to his marriage was similarly austere, such that when Eliza, who was never reconciled to colonial life, confessed her unhappiness to a male acquaintance, Grey insisted on a separation. A reconciliation in 1896 was unsuccessful and they both died, after separating again, in late 1898.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 1999

Accession number: 1999.52.1

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Theresa Walker (age 38 in 1845)

Sir George Grey (age 33 in 1845)

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.

Self portrait, 1846 George French Angas
Self portrait, 1846 George French Angas
Self portrait, 1846 George French Angas
Self portrait, 1846 George French Angas

Profile of a marriage

Magazine article by Dr Sarah Engledow, 2006

Dr Sarah Engledow explores the lives of Sir George Grey and his wife Eliza, the subjects of a pair of wax medallions in the National Portrait Gallery's collection.

Thomas Sutcliffe Mort and his wife Theresa, c. 1847 an unknown artist
Thomas Sutcliffe Mort and his wife Theresa, c. 1847 an unknown artist
Thomas Sutcliffe Mort and his wife Theresa, c. 1847 an unknown artist
Thomas Sutcliffe Mort and his wife Theresa, c. 1847 an unknown artist

Husbands and Wives

Photographic Portraits from 19th Century Australia

Previous exhibition, 2010

'I have just been to my dressing case to take a peep at you.

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The National Portrait Gallery
The National Portrait 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.