Skip to main content

The National Portrait Gallery is temporarily closed to the public until further notice.

Menu

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.

Great stylists: Caruso, Melba, Pavarotti, Bonynge and Sutherland

1983
Arthur Horner

pencil on paper (frame: 40.0 cm x 50.0 cm, image: 32.0 cm x 42.0 cm)

Dame Joan Sutherland (1926–2010) was one of the world’s greatest operatic divas. After winning the Mobil Song Contest in 1950, Sutherland left Australia to study at the Royal College of Music in London, making her debut at Covent Garden in 1952 in The Magic Flute. Within a few weeks she was appearing there in Norma, with Maria Callas in the title role.

In London a fellow expatriate, conductor Richard Bonynge, became her mentor and later her husband. He encouraged her to abandon the heavier vocal roles she favoured and to become a coloratura soprano; the transformation was key to her success. Sutherland’s 1959 performance in Lucia di Lammermoor at Covent Garden launched an international career that spanned nearly 40 years, during which her distinctive voice, immense vocal range and wide repertoire earned her the title ‘La Stupenda’. Luciano Pavarotti described her voice as ‘certainly the greatest voice this century’.

She was Australian of the Year in 1961, the second year the title was awarded. Thirty years later she received the Order of Merit, one of a mere handful of Australians – and the only Australian woman – to be accorded that honour. In 1974, Sutherland and Bonynge returned to Australia, and over the next decade they lent their star power to the Australian Opera. In the years following, she was designated a National Living Treasure. Sutherland lived in Switzerland for many years. When she died, it had been more than 20 years since the night of her last performance, at Covent Garden. She was the first Australian to have been given a memorial service at Westminster Abbey since that of Sir Robert Menzies in 1978.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of Eric Harding and Athol Hawke 2002

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

Arthur Horner (age 57 in 1983)

Dame Joan Sutherland OM AC DBE (age 57 in 1983)

Dame Nellie Melba GBE

Richard Bonynge AO CBE (age 53 in 1983)

Luciano Pavarotti (age 48 in 1983)

Enrico Caruso

Subject professions

Performing arts

Donated by

Eric Harding and Athol Hawke (1 portrait)

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.

Charles Haddon Chambers
Charles Haddon Chambers
Charles Haddon Chambers
Charles Haddon Chambers

Suave

Magazine article by Dr Sarah Engledow, 2010

Charles Haddon Chambers the Australian-born playboy playwright settled permanently in London in 1880 but never lost his Australian stance when satirising the English.

Portrait sketch of Nellie Melba
Portrait sketch of Nellie Melba
Portrait sketch of Nellie Melba
Portrait sketch of Nellie Melba

Doodles of the Diva

Magazine article by Dr Sarah Engledow, 2010

Three tiny sketches of Dame Nellie Melba in the NPG collection were created by the artist who was to go on to paint the most imposing representation of the singer: Rupert Bunny.

© National Portrait Gallery 2021
King Edward Terrace, Parkes
Canberra, ACT 2600, Australia

Phone +61 2 6102 7000
Fax +61 2 6102 7001
ABN: 54 74 277 1196

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.

This website comprises and contains copyrighted materials and works. Copyright in all materials and/or works comprising or contained within this website remains with the National Portrait Gallery and other copyright owners as specified.

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.

The National Portrait Gallery is an Australian Government Agency