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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.

Albert Namatjira

1958
William Dargie

oil on canvas laid on composition board (frame: 100.7 cm x 85.2 cm, support: 76.4 cm x 61.2 cm)

Albert Namatjira (1902-59), painter, became interested in painting at the Hermannsburg Mission in the 1930s. After learning watercolour technique, he was persuaded to exhibit his work in Melbourne in 1938. The exhibition sold out in two days. During the 1940s his work became fashionable throughout Australia and he was the subject of a biography and a film. In 1954 he met the Queen in Canberra, and he was awarded citizenship status in 1957. One of the consequences of citizenship was that Namatjira was legally entitled to buy alcohol, but when he shared it with his fellow Arrernte, as custom required, he was sentenced to imprisonment. Although the sentence was commuted, he never recovered, and died the following year. Nearly 50 years after his death, Namatjira remains the best-known of Australian Aboriginal painters.

The prolific portraitist Sir William Dargie CBE (1912–2003) knew, and had painted with, Albert Namatjira. In 1956 Dargie won one of his eight Archibald Prizes with a portrait of Namatjira, whose ‘tremendous inner dignity,’ he said, contributed to ‘the most wonderful face for a portrait I’ve ever seen’.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased with funds donated by Marilyn Darling AC and with the assistance of Philip Bacon Galleries 2000
© Roger Dargie and Faye Dargie

Artist and subject

William Dargie (age 46 in 1958)

Albert Namatjira (age 56 in 1958)

Subject professions

Visual arts and crafts

Supported by

Marilyn Darling AC (30 portraits supported)

Philip Bacon AM (1 portrait supported)

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.

Albert Namatjira

'You must not lose it'

Portrait story

The art and landscape of Albert Namatjira.

The Changing Face of the Scientist

Magazine article by Elizabeth Finlay, 2003

Scientists tend to conjure up images of men in white coats in labs but this is just one stereotype in an evolving history of how we have perceived scientists, and how their profession has been understood over the years.

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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