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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.

John Gorton

1970 (cast 1999)
Victor Greenhalgh

cast bronze (31.5 cm x 17.5 cm depth 25.5 cm)

The Rt Hon Sir John Gorton GCMG AC CH (1911–2002), elected Liberal prime minister of Australia in 1968, resigned from the office in 1971 after a party motion of confidence resulted in a tied vote. Gorton had been elected in the Menzies landslide of 1949, but adopted policies significantly different from those of the Menzies era. Candid, brusque and irreverent, with cigarette perpetually in hand, he won the leadership of the Liberal Party after the death of Harold Holt. Considering himself ‘Australian to the boot heels’, he initiated the withdrawal of Australian troops from Vietnam and restricted opportunities for overseas control of Australia’s natural resources. It was hoped that he would be able to stand up to the aggressive new Labor leader, Gough Whitlam, but his most damaging opponents were to be conservatives from within his own party. He resigned from the Liberal Party after Malcolm Fraser won the leadership in 1975, and ended his career as an independent.

The National Portrait Gallery has the terracotta head of Gorton that Greenhalgh made as the basis for his bronze head in the Ballarat gardens. This bronze was also cast from that terracotta version.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Cast 1999 from terracotta donated by Paul and Wendy Greenhalgh 1999
© Estate of Victor Greenhalgh

Artist and subject

Victor Greenhalgh (age 70 in 1970)

Sir John Gorton GCMG AC CH (age 59 in 1970)

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.

Primed

Some Prime Ministers

Previous exhibition, 2019

Seventeen of Australia’s thirty prime ministers to date are represented in the contrasting sizes, moods and mediums of these portraits.

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The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance
The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance
The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance

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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.

The National Portrait Gallery is an Australian Government Agency