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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.

Sir Charles Kingsford Smith and Captain Charles Ulm, 1961

William Dargie

oil on canvas (frame: 133.5 cm x 108.8 cm depth 7.8 cm, support: 114.0 cm x 89.0 cm)

Sir Charles Kingsford Smith MC AFC (1897–1935) and Captain Charles Ulm (1898-1934), aviators, together founded Australian National Airways in 1930. During World War I, Kingsford Smith had served on the ground in Gallipoli, Egypt and France before transferring to the Australian Flying Corps and later the Royal Flying Corps, as a member of which he was awarded the Military Cross. He worked in England, America and Australia as a stunt flyer and joy- flight pilot before forming his own aviation company in 1924. Charles Ulm, who at the age of sixteen had been amongst the first troops to land at Gallipoli, and who had later served on the Western Front, had returned to Sydney with a vision of establishing successful commercial airlines. He became Kingsford Smith’s business partner in 1927. That year they circumnavigated Australia in less than half the previous record time. In 1928, he and Kingsford Smith co-piloted the plane later known as Southern Cross across the Pacific from California to Brisbane. Later that year the pair made the first trans-Tasman flight from Sydney to Christchurch. Ulm made several more record-breaking flights, both with Kingsford Smith in Southern Cross, and in command of his own aircraft Faith in Australia. In 1934, Ulm went down in the sea between California and Hawaii in his Airspeed Envoy Stella Australis. His body was never found. Kingsford Smith had become world-famous by 1930, and in 1932 he was knighted for services to aviation, but in business he was almost back to where he started, selling joyflights at ten shillings a ride and establishing an ill-fated flying school. Nonetheless, his marvellous achievements continued until he, too, disappeared, probably near the coast of Burma, on an attempt at the Britain-Australia record.

One of seventeen portraits by Sir William Dargie acquired by 2013, the painting of the aviation heroes is also one of a mere handful of posthumous portraits in the Collection. In 2001 the Sydney Airports Corporation made a gift of the painting to the National Portrait Gallery along with two busts of Kingsford Smith and Ulm by Enid Fleming.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of the Sydney Airports Corporation 2001
© Roger Dargie

Accession number: 2001.186

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

William Dargie (age 49 in 1961)

Charles Ulm

Sir Charles Kingsford Smith MC AFC

Subject professions

Business, trades and industry

Donated by

Sydney Airports Corporation (3 portraits)

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.

Professor Peter Doherty, 2001 Rick Amor
Professor Peter Doherty, 2001 Rick Amor
Professor Peter Doherty, 2001 Rick Amor
Professor Peter Doherty, 2001 Rick Amor

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.

Self portrait, late 1930s William Dargie
Self portrait, late 1930s William Dargie
Self portrait, late 1930s William Dargie
Self portrait, late 1930s William Dargie

Sir William Dargie CBE

Magazine article by Magda Keaney, 2003

Sir William Dargie, painter and eight times winner of the Archibald Prize for portraiture, died in Melbourne on July 26, 2003, aged 91.

Sir Charles Kingsford Smith and Captain Charles Ulm, 1961 William Dargie
Sir Charles Kingsford Smith and Captain Charles Ulm, 1961 William Dargie
Sir Charles Kingsford Smith and Captain Charles Ulm, 1961 William Dargie
Sir Charles Kingsford Smith and Captain Charles Ulm, 1961 William Dargie

The Wonder Years

Magazine article by Sarah Hill, 2001

Sarah Hill introduces the portrait busts of Sir Charles Kingsford Smith and Captain Charles Ulm by Enid Fleming.

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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.