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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.

Study for portrait of Senator John Button, 1992

Andrew Sibley

pencil on paper (sheet: 76.4 cm x 56.3 cm)

John Button (1933-2008), Labor politician, studied arts and law at the University of Melbourne and made his name as a barrister in Melbourne before becoming involved in the Victorian branch of the Labor Party in the late 1950s. Over the next decade he endeavoured along with a group of other moderates to move the branch from the left to the middle ground. In 1974 he was elected to the Senate. Deputy Labor Leader and then Leader of the Opposition in the Senate from 1977, in the leadup to the 1983 election he helped to engineer Bob Hawke's accession to the leadership. That year, he began a ten-year stint as Minister for Industry and Commerce, during which he pressed through far-reaching industrial reforms. After his retirement in 1993 he continued to influence the party while teaching at Monash University and writing the hit memoir As it Happened (1998). Just before his death, political commentator Alan Ramsey described Button as 'the best Prime Minister we never had'.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of the artist 2002
Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program
© Andrew Sibley/Copyright Agency, 2021

Accession number: 2002.39.6

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Andrew Sibley (age 59 in 1992)

John Button (age 59 in 1992)

Subject professions

Government and leadership

Donated by

Andrew Sibley (16 portraits)

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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.