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Betty Cuthbert
, 2002

by Andrew Daly

oil on canvas (frame: 106.0 cm x 71.5 cm, support: 103.0 cm x 68.5 cm)

Betty Cuthbert AC MBE (1938-2017), sprinter, was Australia’s leading gold-medal winning track and field athlete. In 1956 she set a women’s world record for the 200 metres at Moore Park, beating the record set by her compatriot Marjorie Jackson at the 1952 Helsinki Games. Cuthbert had tickets to the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Games as a spectator, but she attended as a competitor, earning the nickname the ‘Golden Girl’ from the Melbourne Argus when she won gold in the 100m, 200m and 4 x 100m relay. The 1958 Commonwealth Games, the 1960 Olympics and the 1962 Commonwealth Games went badly for her, but at the Tokyo Olympics of 1964 she won the 400m, making her only the second woman to have won four different track races. In 1969 she developed multiple sclerosis, and was a vigorous fundraiser for research into the disease. In 1998, Cuthbert was named a Living National Treasure; the Athletic Stadium at Homebush is named in her honour.

Former National Portrait Gallery Director Andrew Sayers once described Perth-based Andrew Daly as ‘an artist who makes a virtue of quietness’. Looking for a Western Australian artist to depict Cuthbert – who was living in Mandurah, near Perth, when this portrait was commissioned – Sayers selected Daly, feeling that the careful, domestic quality of his portraits would fit well with the sitter’s circumstances and personality.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Commissioned with funds from the Basil Bressler Bequest 2002
Accession number: 2003.15.1