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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 Gallery’s Acknowledgement of Country, and information on culturally sensitive and restricted content and the use of historic language in the collection can be found here.

"Phil" Phil May (Image plate from Vanity Fair)

1895
Sir Leslie Ward

chromolithograph on paper (sheet: 38.0 cm x 26.3 cm)

Phil May (1864–1903), cartoonist, was born in Leeds and educated there before his family’s financial circumstances saw him leave school and start work at age thirteen. While employed to mix paint and paint scenery at the Leeds Grand Theatre, he started to make sketches, his first published drawings appearing in the Yorkshire Gossip in 1878. In 1884, having previously tried unsuccessfully to make a go of a cartoonist’s career in London, he was picked up by the St Stephen’s Review, this in turn leading to a job offer with the Bulletin. Arriving in Australia with his wife in 1885, May spent three prolific years with the Bulletin in Sydney and (briefly) Melbourne, producing over 800 drawings before leaving for Paris and further study when his contract expired in 1888. In London again from 1890, he contributed to the Graphic and Punch and many other illustrated publications. He published collections of his cartoons in 1895, 1896 and 1897; Phil May in Australia appeared in 1904, a year after his death in London from tuberculosis.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of Mr Ronald Walker 2001

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. Works of art from the collection are reproduced as per the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). The use of images of works from the collection may be restricted under the Act. Requests for a reproduction of a work of art can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

Artist and subject

Sir Leslie Ward (age 44 in 1895)

Phil May (age 31 in 1895)

Subject professions

Visual arts and crafts

Donated by

Ronald Walker (23 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.

Vanity fair

Magazine article by Ashleigh Wadman, 2012

Ashleigh Wadman rediscovers the Australian characters represented with a kindly touch by the British portrait artist Leslie Ward for the society magazine Vanity Fair.

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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 past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

This website comprises and contains copyrighted materials and works. Copyright in all materials and/or works comprising or contained within this website remains with the National Portrait Gallery and other copyright owners as specified.

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. The use of images of works of art reproduced on this website and all other content may be restricted under the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). Requests for a reproduction of a work of art or other content can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

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