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James Oswald Fairfax
, c. 1991

by Bryan Westwood

oil on canvas (frame: 190.5 cm x 159.0 cm, support: 181.0 cm x 150.5 cm)

James Oswald Fairfax AC (1933-2017) was a director of the newspaper company John Fairfax and Sons Pty Ltd from 1957 to 1987 and its chairman from 1977 to 1987. From 1958 to 1987 he was also a director of Associated Newspapers Ltd. Following the death of Sir Warwick Fairfax in 1987, James's half-brother Warwick Fairfax (b.1960) attempted a takeover of the company. However, following stock market crashes in October of that year, John Fairfax and Sons Pty Ltd was placed in receivership in late 1990. A significant art collector, James Fairfax was a generous benefactor of the Art Gallery of New South Wales and the National Gallery of Australia, of which he was a Council member from 1976 to 1985. For nearly twenty years he also served on the board of the Royal Alexandra Hospital for Children.

Bryan Westwood chose to depict James Fairfax against a wall of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, standing between two seventeenth-century paintings he gave to the gallery. On the left is Rubens's Constantine investing his son Crispus with command of the fleet (1622) and on the right, Jacob van Ruisdael's Wooded hillside with a view of Castle Bentheim (c. 1662).

Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Gift of John Fairfax Holdings Ltd 2002
Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program
Accession number: 2002.86