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Portrait of Jill Neville
, 1967 (completed 1997)

by Reginald Gray

oil and egg tempera on canvas (frame: 43.0 x 34.0 cm, support: 33.0 x 24.0 cm)

Jill Neville (1932-1997), writer and critic, grew up in Sydney and the Blue Mountains. From the age of 17 she was the darling of assorted Sydney bohemians, but she left for London in the early 1950s. When her brother Richard Neville arrived in London, she introduced him to people who helped launch the English incarnation of his magazine Oz, the first issues of which were published from her Bayswater home. In 1966 she published her first novel, Fall-Girl, which drew on her tumultuous relationships with the poets Peter Porter and Robert Lowell. Moving to Paris the following year, she went on to write six more novels, several of which explore the experience of individuals torn between Europe and Australia. Through the 1980s and early 90s she was a regular reviewer for the Independent, the Times Literary Supplement, the Observer, London Magazine and the Australian.

Reginald Gray is a professional portraitist living in Paris. Born in Dublin, he studied at the National College of Art, became a designer for the Pike and Gate Theatres in Dublin and the Lyric Theatre in London, and held his first one-man exhibition at the Abbott and Holder Gallery in London in 1960. In the late 1950s and early 1960s Gray was involved with the School of London artists led by Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud and Frank Auerbach. He moved to Paris in the 1960s, and began this portrait soon after he met Jill Neville there in 1967. They lost touch before it was completed, but he finished the canvas as a tribute to Neville when he heard the news of her death in 1997.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Gift of the artist 2002
Accession number: 2002.53