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Stanley Bruce
, 1937

by Barbara Tribe

cast bronze

Stanley Bruce CH MC PC, 1st Viscount Bruce of Melbourne (1883–1967), was prime minister from 1923 to 1929 and Australia’s High Commissioner in London from 1933 to 1945. School captain and captain of football, cricket and rowing at Melbourne Grammar School, he graduated from Cambridge with a rowing blue before fighting at Gallipoli and winning the Military Cross at Suvla Bay (later he was awarded the Croix de Guerre avec Palme). Returning to Australia he took over the family softgoods importing business, in which he remained involved after being elected the National Party member for Flinders in 1918. As prime minister, he governed in coalition with the newly-formed Country party, packaging his policy as ‘Men, Money and Markets’. He encouraged families to emigrate from Britain and settle on the land, while he secured loans from London financiers to fund infrastructure development. In turn, the British market opened up to Australian wool, wheat and other goods. After struggling with industrial relations issues, Bruce became the first of only two Australian prime ministers to date to lose his own seat at an election. Nonetheless, he remained an influential mediator between Great Britain and Australia and was the first Australian delegate to the League of Nations, where he distinguished himself through the 1930s. Having been made a Companion of Honour in 1927, he was created 1st Viscount Bruce of Melbourne twenty years later. The inaugural inhabitant of the Lodge, Bruce was the first Chancellor of the Australian National University and a founding member of the Royal Canberra Golf Club (he was the first Australian Captain of the ‘home of golf ’, the Scottish Royal and Ancient St Andrew’s Golf Club). Although he died in London, his ashes were scattered from a plane over Lake Burley Griffin; he is the only prime minister whose remains ‘lie’ in Canberra.

Barbara Tribe (1913–2000) was born in Sydney, where she enrolled at East Sydney Technical College at the age of fifteen. Having studied with Rayner Hoff, in 1935 she became the first woman and the first sculptor to win the NSW Travelling Art Scholarship. Throughout the war she remained in England, working in the Inspectorate of Ancient Monuments before settling in Cornwall. Tribe’s portraits are represented in the Australian War Memorial and the National Gallery of Australia as well as the National Portrait Gallery.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of the artist 2000
Accession number: 2000.15