Skip to main content

To help keep our visitors and staff safe, please book your spot before visiting.

Menu

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.

Tamara Tchinarova

1938
Max Dupain OBE

gelatin silver photograph on paper (50.4 cm x 40.2 cm)

Tamara Tchinarova (1919–2017), one of the original 'baby ballerinas' of the Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo, began training with the Russian teacher Olga Preobrajenska, formerly of the Imperial Russian Ballet, at age ten after her family emigrated to Paris from Romania. Noticed by choreographer George Balachine, at twelve she joined the Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo. Tchinarova came to Australia on the first and second tours of the Russian ballets in 1936 and 1938, and chose to remain in Sydney after the second tour. During the 1940s she danced with three Australian dance companies, the Kirsova Ballet, the Polish-Australian Ballet and the Borovansky Ballet. After moving to London, she began working as a Russian/English interpreter for businesses and touring ballet companies, including The Australian Ballet, and as a dance writer. Tchinarova came back to Australia for the last time in 1994 as a guest of The Australian Ballet, delivering a series of lectures. Her autobiography, Dancing into the Unknown: My Life in the Ballets Russes and Beyond, was published in 2007. She died ten years later in Marbella, Spain at the age of 98.

Photographer Max Dupain's glamorous images of the Ballets Russes, such as this portrait of Tchinarova from 1938, capture the excitement and impact of their three avant-garde tours of Australia in the late 1930s.

Gift of Rex Dupain 2003. Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program.

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

Max Dupain OBE (age 27 in 1938)

Tamara Tchinarova (age 19 in 1938)

Subject professions

Performing arts

Donated by

Rex Dupain (15 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.

Sydney Ure Smith
Sydney Ure Smith
Sydney Ure Smith
Sydney Ure Smith

Dupain detective

Magazine article by Johanna McMahon, 2019

Johanna McMahon revels in history and mystery in pursuit of a suite of unknown portrait subjects.

Hélène Kirsova in Petrouchka
Hélène Kirsova in Petrouchka
Hélène Kirsova in Petrouchka
Hélène Kirsova in Petrouchka

Vintage Max

Magazine article by Gael Newton, 2003

Gael Newton delves into the life and art of renowned Australian photographer, Max Dupain.

© National Portrait Gallery 2021
King Edward Terrace, Parkes
Canberra, ACT 2600, Australia

Phone +61 2 6102 7000
Fax +61 2 6102 7001
ABN: 54 74 277 1196

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.

The National Portrait Gallery is an Australian Government Agency