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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.

Portrait of Mrs Sarah Fairfax, c. 1864

Edwin Dalton

pastel on paper laid on canvas (frame: 116.3 cm x 98.5 cm, sight: 86.2 cm x 68.5 cm)

Sarah Fairfax (née Reading, 1808–1875) was born in Warwickshire and in 1827 married John Fairfax (1804–1877), then the proprietor of a Leamington printery. In the wake of financial difficulties occasioned by a libel suit, Fairfax decided to emigrate to New South Wales, arriving in Sydney in September 1838 with Sarah and their three children. Another child was born in Sydney. Three years after they arrived, Fairfax and journalist Charles Kemp purchased the seven-year-old Sydney Herald, which they renamed the Sydney Morning Herald in 1842. With the purchase, Fairfax began a family association with the newspaper that would last for over five generations and nearly 150 years. From 1858, Sarah lived at Ginaghulla, in Bellevue Hill, where she died in 1875, predeceased by two of her four children.

Edwin Dalton, artist and photographer, arrived in Melbourne in the early 1850s having exhibited on occasion with the Royal Academy. By 1858 he had added photography to his repertoire and had moved to Sydney. His ‘Royal Photographic Gallery’ on George Street was known in particular for crayotypes: photographs coloured over with pastel. ‘These photographic art-portraits’, crowed Dalton’s advertisements, ‘combine the finish and brilliancy of artistic portraiture with the truthfulness, relief and power of the photograph.’

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of John Fairfax Holdings Ltd 2002
Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program

Accession number: 2002.80

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Edwin Dalton (age 57 in 1864)

Sarah Fairfax (age 56 in 1864)

Donated by

Fairfax Media Limited (13 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.

Portrait of Professor Graeme Clark, 2000 Peter Wegner
Portrait of Professor Graeme Clark, 2000 Peter Wegner
Portrait of Professor Graeme Clark, 2000 Peter Wegner
Portrait of Professor Graeme Clark, 2000 Peter Wegner

Portraits for Posterity

Previous exhibition, 2006

Drawn from some of the many donations made to the Gallery's collection, the exhibition Portraits for Posterity pays homage both to the remarkable (and varied) group of Australians who are portrayed in the portraits and the generosity of the many donors who have presented them to the Gallery.

The National Portrait Gallery
The National Portrait Gallery
The National Portrait Gallery

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Explore portraiture and come face to face with Australian identity, history, culture, creativity and diversity.

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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.