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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.

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Joan Croll

1976
John Brack

oil on canvas (frame: 165.5 cm x 119.5 cm, support: 152.5 cm x 106.5 cm)

Dr Joan Croll AO (1928–2022), radiologist and physician, studied medicine at the University of Sydney and commenced practising in 1975. A pioneer in the field of breast cancer treatment, she promoted the introduction of mammography and helped establish the National Breast Cancer Screening Program. Also a conservationist, Croll was one of a group of thirteen women – the Battlers for Kelly's Bush – whose campaign to protect bushland in Sydney's Hunters Hill in the early 1970s led to the world's first green ban.

Melbourne-born John Brack emerged as one of Australia's foremost figurative artists in the 1950s with paintings such as Collins Street, 5p.m. (1955). Brack didn't consider himself a portraitist, yet he created a number of portraits that, like his images of ordinary people and urban scenes, are finely observed, sometimes austere examinations of everyday life. On being told that Brack had been commissioned to paint her, Croll wondered: 'Oh, what am I going to look like?' Brack made a number of sketches of her in Sydney and completed the painting – the first of his few private portrait commissions – in Melbourne. 'When I look at my portrait, I see somebody who likes fashion', Croll later said. 'And I see me ... I'm a bossy lady, and I look like a bossy lady.'

Gift of Frank Croll and Dr Joan Croll AO 2001. Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program.
© Helen Brack

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.
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Audio description

3 minutes 41 seconds
Show transcript

Artist and subject

John Brack (age 56 in 1976)

Joan Croll AO (age 48 in 1976)

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.

Portrait of Tam Purves
Portrait of Tam Purves
Portrait of Tam Purves
Portrait of Tam Purves

Bonfire of the vanities

Magazine article by Stuart Purves, 2016

Australian Galleries Director Stuart Purves tells the story of two portraits by John Brack.

Joan Croll

Portrait story

An interview with the indomitable Joan Croll, subject of John Brack's 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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