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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.

George Duncan, c. 1940

Alison Rehfisch

oil on hessian laid on cardboard (frame: 41.5 cm x 38.7 cm, support: 31.3 cm x 27.6 cm)

George Duncan (1904-1974), artist, was the second husband of modern artist Alison Rehfisch. They married in 1942, having met in the late 1920s as painting students at the Royal Art Society of New South Wales. Duncan recalled in 1965 ‘we seemed to belong to each other on that first day’. Born in Auckland, Duncan traveled in the UK and Europe in the late 1930s and worked as a camouflage artist during World War II. In the 1940s Duncan and Rehfisch exhibited their work together at Sydney’s Macquarie Galleries, and were active in Sydney’s Bohemian contemporary art community. In 1947 they moved to Berrima, painting the landscapes around Goulburn and the Southern Highlands before returning to Sydney in 1951 where Duncan became director of the influential David Jones Art Gallery. Their relationship was based on equality, and Duncan is credited with instigating infamous fancy-dress ‘loin-cloth’ parties held in their painting studio. One such party was painted by Norman Lindsay.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of Mrs Margaret Adams 1999

Accession number: 2003.154

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Alison Rehfisch (age 40 in 1940)

George Duncan (age 36 in 1940)

Subject professions

Visual arts and crafts

Related information

The Companion

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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.

Miranda Otto, 1997 Montalbetti+Campbell
Miranda Otto, 1997 Montalbetti+Campbell
Miranda Otto, 1997 Montalbetti+Campbell
Miranda Otto, 1997 Montalbetti+Campbell

Eye to eye

Previous exhibition, 2019

Eye to Eye is a summer Portrait Gallery Collection remix arranged by degree of eye contact – from turned away with eyes closed all the way through to right-back-at-you – as we explore artists’ and subjects’ choices around the direction of the gaze.

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The National Portrait Gallery
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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.