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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.

Dame Mary Gilmore

c. 1938
Lyall Trindall

oil on canvas (frame: 98.5 cm x 88.5 cm, support: 86.5 cm x 76.2 cm)

Dame Mary Gilmore DBE (1865–1962) was a poet, journalist, radical social visionary and letter writer. She was the first female member of the Australian Workers’ Union, and from 1908 to 1931 she championed the causes of the underprivileged as editor of the women’s page of the Australian Worker. In 1930 she published The Wild Swan, a book of verse decrying white settlers’ ravaging of the land and indifference to Aboriginal culture. Under the Wilgas (1932) and subsequent works expanded on this theme. Between 1891 and 1961 at least 13 portraits were made of Gilmore by various artists. In 1937, when she was made a Dame of the British Empire, she became the first person to be created DBE for writing. Her State funeral in Sydney was the first for an Australian writer since that of her friend – possibly, briefly, her boyfriend – Henry Lawson, forty years earlier.

Gordon Lyall Trindall gave up his Marrickville barbering business at age 26 to become an artist. By the 1940s he was widely known for his portraits and nudes, which commanded extraordinarily high prices. Trindall stated that while modern art may be good, he himself could not make a living at it. Instead, his aim was to paint what the public wanted; ‘sincerity’, he said, ‘is my guiding principle’.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased with funds provided by Marilyn Darling AC 2001
© Estate of Lyall Trindall

Artist and subject

Lyall Trindall (age 52 in 1938)

Dame Mary Gilmore DBE (age 73 in 1938)

Subject professions

Media and communications

Supported by

Marilyn Darling AC (30 portraits 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.

Talking heads

About Face article

21 December 2020

In their own words lead researcher Louise Maher on the novel project that lets the Gallery’s portraits speak for themselves.

Painting writing

Magazine article by Dr Sarah Engledow, 2007

Dr Sarah Engledow explores the portraits of writers held in the National Portrait Gallery's collection.

© National Portrait Gallery 2021
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Canberra, ACT 2600, Australia

Phone +61 2 6102 7000
Fax +61 2 6102 7001
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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