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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.

Athol Shmith, 1985

Michel Lawrence

type C photograph on paper (frame: 45.2 cm x 52.2 cm, mount: 43.5 cm x 50.7 cm, sheet: 24.5 cm x 33.4 cm, image: 13.0 cm x 19.3 cm)

Athol Shmith AM (1914-1990) was a Melbourne-based fashion and portrait photographer. He began taking society portraits in his parents' living room in the late 1920s. By the end of the 1930s he had premises in Collins St and was photographing international stage and musical celebrities including Vivian Leigh, Noel Coward and Isaac Stern. As a fashion photographer with a simple, elegant style, he launched the careers of a number of models, including Maggie Tabberer. In 1968 Smith helped to establish the department of photography at the National Gallery of Victoria. Later he became head of the photography department at Prahran College, and several of his students, including Bill Henson and the late Carol Jerrems, became well-known photographers themselves. The National Gallery of Victoria held a retrospective of Shmith's work in 1989.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 1999
© Michel Lawrence

Accession number: 1999.57

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Michel Lawrence (age 37 in 1985)

Athol Shmith (age 71 in 1985)

Subject professions

Visual arts and crafts

Related portraits

1. The Boys Next Door, 1978. 2. Lloyd Rees, 1987. All Michel Lawrence.

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.

Margot Rhys, 1935 by Athol Shmith
Margot Rhys, 1935 by Athol Shmith
Margot Rhys, 1935 by Athol Shmith
Margot Rhys, 1935 by Athol Shmith

Progressive pictures

Magazine article by Aimee Board, 2017

Athol Shmith’s photographs contributed to the emergence of a new vision of Australian womanhood.

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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.