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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.

James Oswald Fairfax

c. 1991
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).

Gift of John Fairfax Holdings Ltd 2002. Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program.
© Bryan Westwood/Copyright Agency, 2021

Artist and subject

Bryan Westwood (age 61 in 1991)

James Fairfax AO (age 58 in 1991)

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.

A quiet moment

Magazine article by Helene Ladomirska, 2006

As Bryan Westwood’s portrait of Brian Dunlop hangs adjacent to Brian Dunlop’s portrait of the philanthropist Dr Joseph Brown AO OBE, we see the artist of one work as the subject of the other. 

The Fairfax Gift

Magazine article by Andrew Sayers AM, 2003

This article examines the portraits gifted to the National Portrait Gallery by Fairfax Holdings in 2003.

© National Portrait Gallery 2021
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Canberra, ACT 2600, Australia

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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.

The National Portrait Gallery is an Australian Government Agency