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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.

Mrs Grey, c. 1845

Theresa Walker

cast wax (frame: 19 cm x 19 cm depth 3.5 cm diameter 19.0 cm)

Theresa Walker (née Chauncy) was an original. One contemporary, a Mrs Edwards of Germanton, described her as ‘one of the three great women I have known during a long life.’ On the other hand, the Rev. Mr Holden of Adelaide wrote of her ‘marked peculiarities of character’, and her own brother noted her ‘lack of discretion in reference to matters of every day life.’ Notwithstanding (or perhaps on account of) this apparent eccentricity, Walker is an important though neglected figure in early colonial settler art: Australia’s first woman sculptor. She and her sister, the equally-gifted painter Martha Berkeley, were amongst the most accomplished artists working in South Australia during the 1840s. During this period Theresa made low relief wax profiles of the colony’s leading citizens. Walker also took photographs, although only a couple of her salted paper prints survive. Interestingly, in the light of this display, they are images of drawings by Yakaduna (Tommy McRae), made when she lived near him at Barnawatha in Victoria in the early 1860s.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 1999

Accession number: 1999.52.2

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Theresa Walker (age 38 in 1845)

Lady Eliza Lucy Grey (age 26 in 1845)

Subject professions

Government and leadership

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.

The National Portrait Gallery
The National Portrait Gallery
The National Portrait Gallery

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Explore portraiture and come face to face with Australian identity, history, culture, creativity and diversity.

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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.