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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.

Tom Roberts, 1920

Alice Mills OAM

gelatin silver photograph on paper (sight: 14.1 cm x 9.1 cm)

More images of this artwork

Tom Roberts (1856–1931), artist, came to Australia from England at the age of 13, but returned to study art in London. He arrived back in Melbourne in 1885 and established a successful portrait practice. At the same time, he began to paint outdoors with a number of other artists, including Charles Conder and Arthur Streeton, who came to be known as the ‘Heidelberg School’. Having lobbied hard for the establishment of a collection of portraits of Australian statesmen, he moved to England in 1903. There, he completed his vast ‘Big Picture’ of the opening of the Australian Parliament, but the project was exhausting, his eyesight dwindled, and he fell into a black period as the success he had hoped for in England eluded him. During the First World War he understated his age to work as an orderly at the Third London General Hospital, Wandsworth. He returned permanently to Australia in 1923, settling at Kallista in the Dandenongs. There, he mostly painted small landscapes and flower pieces.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of Gerard Vaughan 2001

Accession number: 2001.11

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Alice Mills OAM (age 50 in 1920)

Tom Roberts (age 64 in 1920)

Subject professions

Visual arts and crafts

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.

The sisters, 1904
The sisters, 1904
The sisters, 1904
The sisters, 1904

Beguiling impressions

Magazine article by Dr Sarah Engledow, 2012

Sarah Engledow is seduced by the portraits and the connections between the artists and their subjects in the exhibition Impressions: Painting light and life.

Practising the Minuet (Miss Hilda Spong), 1893 Tom Roberts
Practising the Minuet (Miss Hilda Spong), 1893 Tom Roberts
Practising the Minuet (Miss Hilda Spong), 1893 Tom Roberts
Practising the Minuet (Miss Hilda Spong), 1893 Tom Roberts

An actress and her fans

Magazine article by Dr Sarah Engledow, 2008

Dr. Sarah Engledow discovers the amazing life of Ms. Hilda Spong, little remembered star of the stage, who was captured in a portrait by Tom Roberts.

Sir Macfarlane Burnet, 1960-61 William Dargie
Sir Macfarlane Burnet, 1960-61 William Dargie
Sir Macfarlane Burnet, 1960-61 William Dargie
Sir Macfarlane Burnet, 1960-61 William Dargie

Picture this...

Magazine article by Andrew Sayers AM, 2003

This edited version of a speech by Andrew Sayers examines some of the antecedents of the National Portrait Gallery and set out the ideas behind the modern Gallery and its collection.

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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.