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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.

Ian Thorpe, 2002

James Houston

type C photograph on paper (sheet: 30.3 cm x 41.6 cm, image: 27.3 cm x 40.8 cm)

Ian Thorpe OAM (b. 1982), former swimmer, was selected at fourteen for the national team. Speedily earning the nickname ‘Thorpedo’, over the next ten years he set thirteen world records and won eleven world championship gold medals. At the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney he won three gold and two silver medals, and in Athens in 2004 he won two golds, a silver and a bronze, making him the country’s leading Olympic medallist. He was named World Swimmer of the Year four times between 1998 and 2002. Young Australian of the Year in 2000, Thorpe founded Ian Thorpe’s Fountain for Youth to raise funds for ill and disadvantaged children. His retirement from swimming at the age of 24 prompted much discussion of whether or not he had been the world’s all-time greatest swimmer. Amongst his many popular and official awards is the Don Award of the Sport Australia Hall of Fame, awarded to sportspersons who are ‘considered to have had the capacity to most inspire the nation’. For his support of Indigenous health and education, he received an honorary doctorate from the University of Western Sydney in 2013.

James Houston, Sydney-born, took the first nude cover for Australian Vogue in 1997. In 1999 he shot the calendar for the Sydney Olympic Games. In 2000 he moved to the USA, where he is now a leading fashion, beauty and celebrity photographer.


Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of the artist 2002
© James Houston

Accession number: 2002.64

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

James Houston

Ian Thorpe OAM (age 20 in 2002)

Subject professions

Sports and recreation

Donated by

James Houston (2 portraits)

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.

Elle Macpherson, 2000 Polly Borland
Elle Macpherson, 2000 Polly Borland
Elle Macpherson, 2000 Polly Borland
Elle Macpherson, 2000 Polly Borland

Australian Visit

Previous exhibition, 2006

The exhibition will include works of art from the NPG Canberra's permanent collection with some inward loans and aims to highlight the achievements of notable Australians.

In the mirror: self portrait with Joy Hester, 1939 Albert Tucker
In the mirror: self portrait with Joy Hester, 1939 Albert Tucker
In the mirror: self portrait with Joy Hester, 1939 Albert Tucker
In the mirror: self portrait with Joy Hester, 1939 Albert Tucker

Depth of Field

Portrait Photography from the Collection

Previous exhibition, 2004

Over the last five years the National Portrait Gallery has developed a collection of portrait photographs that reflects both the strength and diversity of Australian achievement as well as the talents of our photographers.

Ian Thorpe, 2002 James Houston
Ian Thorpe, 2002 James Houston
Ian Thorpe, 2002 James Houston
Ian Thorpe, 2002 James Houston

Contemporary Australian Portraits

Previous exhibition, 2002

Contemporary Australian Portraits is a cross section, a sampling, of some of the present-day directions in Australian portrait practice

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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.