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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.

Rt Hon. Sir Robert Menzies

c. 1962
Victor Greenhalgh

cast bronze (including base: 40.8 cm x 22.5 cm depth 25.0 cm)

Rt Hon. Sir Robert Gordon Menzies KT AK CH PC QC (1894-1978) was Prime Minister of Australia for a record total of 19 years: from 1939 to 1941 and 1949 to 1966. Born in Jeparit, Victoria, Menzies attended school in Ballarat and studied at Melbourne University, where he gained a reputation as a brilliant speaker. Following early success at the Bar and in state politics, he entered Federal parliament in 1934. He became Prime Minister in 1939 as leader of the United Australia Party, but bitter divisions led to his resignation and the disintegration of the UAP. From the back benches, Menzies founded the Liberal Party, which he led from 1944 to 1966. As Prime Minister through a period of remarkable national prosperity, Menzies cultivated the USA as a 'powerful friend', furthering the two nations' economic and military ties. A staunch monarchist, he was invested as a Knight of the Thistle and succeeded Winston Churchill as Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports from 1965 to 1978.

Victor Greenhalgh, sculptor and teacher, studied at the Ballarat School of Mines and the Workingmen’s College, Melbourne (later RMIT). He taught briefly at the Bendigo School of Mines, and for ten years from 1927 he taught at the Ballarat School of Mines. In 1938 his commissioned statue of King George V was unveiled in the main street of Ballarat. Having spent World War 2 as a director of camouflage, from 1955 to 1965 he was head of the school of art at RMIT. Between 1959 and 1974 he made busts of Scullin, Forde, Menzies, Holt, McEwen, Gorton, McMahon and Whitlam for the Avenue of Prime Ministers in Ballarat’s Botanic Gardens. The three works by Greenhalgh in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery were studies for, or casts of, Ballarat’s prime ministerial busts.

Menzies’s bust was donated to the National Portrait Gallery by Lady Bunting, known as Peg, whose husband, Sir John Bunting, was assistant secretary to the Prime Minister’s Department from 1949 to 1953 and secretary to the cabinet from 1959 to 1975. Menzies described Bunting as the ‘prince of public servants’. Bunting was removed from the post of head of the Prime Minister’s Department by John Gorton in 1968, but kept the post of secretary to the cabinet. He returned to head the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet under William McMahon in 1971. From 1975 to 1977 he was Australia’s high commissioner in London. In retirement, he wrote RG Menzies – A Portrait (1988).

Victor Greenhalgh, an influential sculptor and teacher, was commissioned to sculpt the King George V statue in Ballarat, as well as the eight portrait busts of Australian Prime Ministers which line the Avenue of Prime Ministers in that city's Botanical Gardens.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of Lady Bunting in honour of Sir John Bunting and the Menzies Foundation 1999
Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program
© Estate of Victor Greenhalgh

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

Victor Greenhalgh (age 62 in 1962)

Sir Robert Menzies KT AK CH LLM QC (age 68 in 1962)

Donated by

Lady Bunting (1 portrait)

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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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