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Major General Paul Cullen
, 2002

by Mathew Lynn

oil on canvas

Major General Paul Cullen AC CBE DSO and BAAR ED (Rtd) (1909– 2007) was a soldier, banker, welfare executive and grazier. He served with exceptional distinction on many fronts in World War II, particularly on the Kokoda Track and in the Wewak campaign. After the war he became the first president of the Citizen Military Forces Association (later the Army Reserve). Having formed Australia’s first unit trust before the war, in 1950 he formed Australia’s first merchant bank, Mainguard (Australia) Ltd. Over time he became the first national president of Austcare, the first president of the Refugee Council of Australia, the president of the Australian Jewish Welfare Society for Refugees and the president of the Royal Blind Society of New South Wales. In 1981 he received the Nansen Medal from the United Nations, in recognition of his work on behalf of refugees.

Mathew Lynn (b. 1963) is a Sydney artist, much in demand for commissioned portraits. He has

been a finalist in the Archibald Prize thirteen times since 1997, when he was runner-up and won the People’s Choice Award; he was runner-up again in 1998 and won the Packing Room Prize in 2013. Lynn painted this forthright portrait of Cullen over a series of meetings at Cullen’s grazing property in the Southern Highlands, and in his own studio in Sydney. The artist relates that on one occasion he rode out with Cullen to muster some cattle. The old soldier rounded them up, but asked Lynn to count them, as his sight was no longer what it was. Later he joked that Lynn is a better painter than horseman.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of the New South Wales Jewish War Memorial 2002
Accession number: 2002.3