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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.

Joan Sutherland, (printed 1992)

Lewis Morley

gelatin silver photograph on paper (sheet: 60.9 cm x 50.7 cm, image: 52.0 cm x 50.7 cm)

Dame Joan Sutherland OM AC DBE (1926–2010) was one of the world’s greatest operatic divas. After winning the Mobil Song Quest in 1950, Sutherland left Australia to study at the Royal College of Music in London, making her debut at Covent Garden in 1952 in The Magic Flute. Within a few weeks she was appearing there in Norma, with Maria Callas in the title role. In London a fellow expatriate, conductor Richard Bonynge, became her mentor and later her husband. He encouraged her to abandon the heavier vocal roles she favoured and to become a coloratura soprano; the transformation was key to her success. Sutherland’s 1959 performance in Lucia di Lammermoor at Covent Garden launched an international career that spanned nearly forty years, during which her distinctive voice, immense vocal range and wide repertoire earned her the title ‘La Stupenda’. She was Australian of the Year in 1961, the second year the title was awarded. Thirty years later, she received the Order of Merit – one of a mere handful of Australians, and the only Australian woman, on which that honour has been bestowed. In 1974, Sutherland and Bonynge returned to Australia, and over the next decade they lent their star power to the Australian Opera. In the years following, she was designated a Living National Treasure. Sutherland lived in Switzerland for many years. When she died, it had been more than twenty years since the night on which she last performed, at Covent Garden. She was the first Australian to be given a memorial service in Westminster Abbey since Sir Robert Menzies died in 1978.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of the artist 2002
Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program
© Lewis Morley Archive LLC

Accession number: 2002.16

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Lewis Morley (age 67 in 1992)

Dame Joan Sutherland OM AC DBE (age 66 in 1992)

Subject professions

Performing arts

Donated by

Lewis Morley (49 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.

Lewis Morley, 2003 Sage
Lewis Morley, 2003 Sage
Lewis Morley, 2003 Sage
Lewis Morley, 2003 Sage

Myself and Eye

Magazine article by Magda Keaney, 2003

Magda Keaney speaks with Lewis Morley about his photographic career and the major retrospective of his work on display at the NPG.

Lee Kernaghan near Broken Hill, 2005 Ian Jennings
Lee Kernaghan near Broken Hill, 2005 Ian Jennings
Lee Kernaghan near Broken Hill, 2005 Ian Jennings
Lee Kernaghan near Broken Hill, 2005 Ian Jennings

Australian of the Year

Inspiring a Nation

Previous exhibition, 2010

The Australian of the Year Awards have often provoked controversy about who is selected and whether their achievements are remarkable.

Elle Macpherson, 2000 Polly Borland
Elle Macpherson, 2000 Polly Borland
Elle Macpherson, 2000 Polly Borland
Elle Macpherson, 2000 Polly Borland

Australian Visit

Previous exhibition, 2006

The exhibition will include works of art from the NPG Canberra's permanent collection with some inward loans and aims to highlight the achievements of notable Australians.

We would like to thank our partners.
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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.