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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)

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, Scanlan and McIntyre. According to testimony later given by Constable Alexander Fitzpatrick, in early 1878 he was shot at by Ned Kelly when he went to the Kelly house to arrest Ned’s brother Dan. The Kellys' mother and brother-in-law were jailed for their parts in the melee, and Ned and Dan went into hiding together in the Wombat Ranges near Mansfield, Victoria. A police party comprising Sergeant Kennedy and Constables Lonigan, Scanlan 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 Scanlan 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; after Kennedy and Scanlan returned, Ned killed them also. 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

Artist and subject

Ned Kelly (age 23 in 1878)

Dan Kelly (age 17 in 1878)

Thomas Lonigan

Michael Scanlan (age 35 in 1878)

Thomas McIntyre

Sergeant Michael Kennedy

Subject professions

Law and justice

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.

Good, bad and the ugly

Magazine article by Michael Desmond, 2007

Michael Desmond explores what makes a portrait subject significant.

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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