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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.

Mrs Elizabeth Lewis, c. 1830

an unknown artist

watercolour on ivory (frame: 25.5 cm x 24.0 cm, oval: 8.5 cm x 6.5 cm)

Mortimer Lewis (1796–1879), surveyor and architect, and his wife Elizabeth (née Clements, c. 1794-1865) arrived in Sydney in March 1830 with their first four children. London-born, Lewis had worked as a surveyor and draftsman for almost fifteen years before being appointed to a position in the office of the Surveyor-General of New South Wales, Thomas Mitchell. Lewis assisted Mitchell in surveying areas of the Great Dividing Range and, at Mitchell’s instigation, was appointed New South Wales Government Architect in 1835. During his fifteen year tenure in this role, Lewis oversaw the implementation of an ambitious program of public works, designing churches, schools, police stations, courthouses and prisons, as well as residences. Examples of his buildings include the courthouses and gaols at Darlinghurst and Berrima; the Customs House at Circular Quay; the Tarban Creek Lunatic Asylum (now known as Gladesville Hospital); the King’s School, Parramatta; and Richmond Villa, constructed beside the Domain as Lewis’s private residence in 1849, but relocated to Millers Point in the 1970s. Lewis also supervised the construction of Sydney’s Government House, designed in London by Edward Blore and comlpeted in 1845. Lewis resigned as Government Architect in 1849 pending an official enquiry that was to find that he had misappropriated materials intended for the first Australian Museum. Of his and Elizabeth’s five children, three – sons Oswald, Mortimer junior and Frederick – became architects. Lewis went into private practice with Oswald for a time. He died in Sydney in March 1879.

During the 1830s, Mortimer Lewis acquired seventeen acres of coastal land in what is now the Sydney suburb of Bronte. Lewis commenced building a villa on the property – Bronte House – but managed to complete only the dining and drawing rooms before being forced to sell in 1843. The house was completed for the new owners, politician Robert Lowe and his wife, Georgiana, in 1845.

Opinions vary on whether these portraits of Mortimer and Elizabeth Lewis were painted in England before they left for Australia, or are the work of a colonial artist. They remained in the collection of the Lewis family until being purchased by Leo Schofield, then the occupant of Bronte House, in 1998. They hung in Bronte House until gifted by Schofield to the National Portrait Gallery in 2002.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of Leo Schofield AM 2002
Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program

Accession number: 2002.37.2

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Elizabeth Lewis (age 36 in 1830)

Subject professions

Migration and colonisation

Donated by

Leo Schofield AM (4 portraits)

Related portraits

1. Mr Mortimer Lewis, c. 1828. All an unknown artist.

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.

Mr Mortimer Lewis, c. 1828 an unknown artist
Mr Mortimer Lewis, c. 1828 an unknown artist
Mr Mortimer Lewis, c. 1828 an unknown artist
Mr Mortimer Lewis, c. 1828 an unknown artist

Little treasures

Magazine article by Dr Sarah Engledow, 2002

The acquisition of the ivory miniatures of Mortimer and Mrs Lewis.

Thomas Sutcliffe Mort and his wife Theresa, c. 1847 an unknown artist
Thomas Sutcliffe Mort and his wife Theresa, c. 1847 an unknown artist
Thomas Sutcliffe Mort and his wife Theresa, c. 1847 an unknown artist
Thomas Sutcliffe Mort and his wife Theresa, c. 1847 an unknown artist

Husbands and Wives

Photographic Portraits from 19th Century Australia

Previous exhibition, 2010

'I have just been to my dressing case to take a peep at you.

Portrait of Professor Graeme Clark, 2000 Peter Wegner
Portrait of Professor Graeme Clark, 2000 Peter Wegner
Portrait of Professor Graeme Clark, 2000 Peter Wegner
Portrait of Professor Graeme Clark, 2000 Peter Wegner

Portraits for Posterity

Previous exhibition, 2006

Drawn from some of the many donations made to the Gallery's collection, the exhibition Portraits for Posterity pays homage both to the remarkable (and varied) group of Australians who are portrayed in the portraits and the generosity of the many donors who have presented them to the Gallery.

We would like to thank our partners.
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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.