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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 Bushranger Tragedy (from The Australasian Sketcher, 23 November 1878)

an unknown artist

wood engraving on paper (sheet: 40.1 cm x 27.4 cm)

More images of this artwork

This work depicts the men involved in a crucial juncture in the life of Edward 'Ned' Kelly: Kelly, his brother Dan, Sergeant Kennedy and Constables Lonigan, Scanlon and McIntyre. In early 1878, Ned Kelly was alleged to have shot at a policeman, Constable Fitzpatrick, who came to the Kelly house to arrest Dan Kelly. The Kellys' mother and brother-in-law were jailed for their parts in the 'attempted murder', and Ned and Dan went into hiding together in the Wombat Ranges near Mansfield, Victoria. A police party comprising Sergeant Kennedy and Constables Lonigan, Scanlon and McIntyre was dispatched to capture them. On 25 October 1878 the officers camped at Stringybark Creek, where Ned marked them.

The next day, when Kennedy and Scanlon went out to search the surrounding bush, the 'Kelly gang' – Ned, Dan, Joe Byrne and Steve Hart – ambushed Lonigan and McIntyre. Ned Kelly shot Lonigan dead as the officer drew his revolver. McIntyre surrendered, and when Kennedy and Scanlon returned, Ned called on them to do likewise. They refused; Ned Kelly killed Scanlon and mortally wounded Kennedy, later shooting him in the heart as an 'act of mercy'. McIntyre escaped to Mansfield and related the story to his colleagues. Within weeks the Victorian government advertised huge rewards for the Kelly gang members, and these rewards increased in the ensuing months. The 'siege of Glenrowan' took place in June 1880; Dan Kelly, Byrne and Hart all died there. Kelly survived, and was executed in November that year.

This wood engraving is a page removed from an original copy of the Australasian Sketcher of Saturday, November 23, 1878.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2003

Accession number: 2003.105

Currently not on display

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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.

Phrenology video: 3 minutes 25 seconds
Phrenology video: 3 minutes 25 seconds
Phrenology video: 3 minutes 25 seconds
Phrenology video: 3 minutes 25 seconds

Ned Kelly and death masks

'Judge a person by their cover'

Portrait story

Alexandra Roginski explains the history behind the pseudo-science of phrenology.

Bee Miles, 1976 Roderick Shaw
Bee Miles, 1976 Roderick Shaw
Bee Miles, 1976 Roderick Shaw
Bee Miles, 1976 Roderick Shaw

Good, bad and the ugly

Magazine article by Michael Desmond, 2007

Michael Desmond explores what makes a portrait subject significant.

Ned Kelly death mask, date unknown an unknown artist after Maximilian Kreitmayer
Ned Kelly death mask, date unknown an unknown artist after Maximilian Kreitmayer
Ned Kelly death mask, date unknown an unknown artist after Maximilian Kreitmayer
Ned Kelly death mask, date unknown an unknown artist after Maximilian Kreitmayer

Sideshow Alley

Infamy, the macabre & the portrait

Previous exhibition, 2015

Death masks, post-mortem drawings and other spooky and disquieting portraits... Come and see how portraits of infamous Australians were used in the 19th century.

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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.