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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.

Sir Arthur Coles

c. 1971
Sir William Dargie CBE

oil on canvas (100.0 cm x 75.5 cm)

The Coles retail dynasty began when the first George Coles arrived in Victoria in the 1850s and established a butcher’s shop. His son, also named George, bought it and went on to open a number of country stores. The second George had eleven children with his first wife, Elizabeth, including a third George (1885-1977), Arthur (1892-1982), Kenneth (1896-1985) (known as Frank until 1957) and Edgar (1899-1981). After Elizabeth died, George married again, and had one more child, Norman (1907-1989). The third George Coles bought and sold various businesses from his father before opening his first store in Collingwood in 1914. After the war he was back in business, opening his first ‘nothing over 2/6-’ store in Collingwood in 1919. The company was incorporated in 1921 and went public as GJ Coles and Coy Ltd in 1927, when there were eight stores. Over the course of the twentieth century, as the firm went on to acquire or develop many other retail chains including Coles New World supermarkets, K-mart, Target, Katies, Bi-Lo, Vintage Cellars and Red Rooster, George Coles’s brothers Arthur, Kenneth, Edgar and Norman worked up through the company to become directors. All the brothers were involved to a greater or lesser degree in philanthropy and corporate affairs and served on a variety of boards. Arthur Coles was Lord Mayor of Melbourne from 1938 to 1940 and was Chairman of the Rationing Commission and the War Damage Commission between 1942 and 1950. He was knighted in 1960.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of Coles Myer Ltd 2002
Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program
© Roger Dargie and Faye Dargie

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. Works of art from the collection are reproduced as per the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). The use of images of works from the collection may be restricted under the Act. Requests for a reproduction of a work of art can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

Artist and subject

Sir William Dargie CBE (age 59 in 1971)

Sir Arthur Coles (age 79 in 1971)

Subject professions

Business, trades and industry

Donated by

Coles Myer Ltd (6 portraits)

Related information

The Companion

Permanent collection catalogue

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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.

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Sir William Dargie CBE

Magazine article by Magda Keaney, 2003

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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 past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

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The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. The use of images of works of art reproduced on this website and all other content may be restricted under the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). Requests for a reproduction of a work of art or other content can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

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