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ON DISPLAY

Leo Schofield
, 2001

by Brent Harris

oil on canvas (frame: 141.4 cm x 106.4 cm, support: 140.0 cm x 105.0 cm)

Leo Schofield AM (b. 1935) has been a significant figure in Australia’s cultural life for decades. With a background in advertising and journalism, and a reputation as an uncompromising food critic (he established the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide in 1984) he was the director of the Melbourne Festival from 1994 to 1996 and the Sydney Festival from 1997 to 2001. In the latter role, he was credited with making the annual showcase for music, dance, theatre, art and outdoor events more diverse, accessible and financially viable. From 1996 to 2000 he was the inaugural chairman of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra; in 2001 he directed the Olympic Arts Festival; and in 2002-2003 he directed the Sydney New Year’s Eve celebrations. A prominent commentator on museums and heritage issues, he painstakingly restored Sydney’s historic Bronte House during his tenancy there, and later revivified a historic house in Kempton, Tasmania.

Brent Harris is a Melbourne-based painter and printmaker. In some of Harris’s abstract work, inaugural National Portrait Gallery Director Andrew Sayers noticed circular forms that were faintly suggestive of portraiture. Having been persuaded to undertake the commission, which came as a considerable surprise, Harris finished two different paintings of Schofield, and invited the Gallery to choose between them. In one, Schofield was pictured under a flowering wisteria. In the other – this one – the oval frame around Schofield’s sparely rendered, yet unmistakable face seemed to reflect his interest in colonial art.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Commissioned for the National Portrait Gallery by Angela Nevill, Nevill Keating Pictures Ltd, in memory of William Keating 2001
Accession number: 2002.5