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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.

John Fairfax

mid to late 19th century
Achille Simonetti

carrara marble on scagliola column (76.5 cm)

John Fairfax (1804-1877) was a newspaper publisher whose purchase of the Sydney Morning Herald in 1841 began a family association with the paper that would last for over five generations and nearly 150 years. No other newspaper in the world has been so long under one family's control and no other family in Australia has subsequently formed such a successful entrepreneurial dynasty. Born in England, John Fairfax left school at the age of twelve and was apprenticed to a printer and bookseller. In 1838 he immigrated to Sydney with his wife Sarah (née Reading). Three years later he and partner Charles Kemp purchased the seven-year old Sydney Herald and the following year renamed it the Sydney Morning Herald. In 1853 John Fairfax bought out Kemp and went into partnership with his eldest son, Charles John Fairfax (1829-1863).

Gift of John Fairfax Holdings Ltd 2002. Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program.

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.

Subject professions

Media and communications

Donated by

Fairfax Media Limited (13 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.

The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance
The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance
The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance
The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance

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Canberra, ACT 2600, Australia

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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