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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.

Pair of bookends with portraits of Albert Namatjira, c. 1950

Don Mount

wood and glazed ceramic (mount: 15.6 cm x 13.2 cm depth 11.2 cm)
Image not available (NC)

Albert Namatjira (1902-59), artist, learned to paint at the Hermannsburg Mission in the 1930s. He was persuaded to exhibit his watercolours in Melbourne in 1938, and 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 Namatjira 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 later, Namatjira remains the best-known of Australian Aboriginal painters.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Gift of Ron Radford 2001
Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program

Accession number: 2001.189.a-b

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Don Mount

Albert Namatjira (age 48 in 1950)

Subject professions

Visual arts and crafts

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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 portrait story video: 2 minutes
Albert Namatjira portrait story video: 2 minutes
Albert Namatjira portrait story video: 2 minutes
Albert Namatjira portrait story video: 2 minutes

Albert Namatjira

'You must not lose it'

Portrait story

The art and landscape of Albert Namatjira.

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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.