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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.

Henry Bolte, 1969

Les Tanner and Gus McLaren (producer)

glazed ceramic

Sir Henry Bolte KCMG (1908-90) was Victorian's longest serving Premier from 1955 until his retirement in 1972. Bolte, who had a reputation for acerbic one-liners, successfully exploited his image as a man of the people. While he was responsible for key social reforms such as increased rights for Aborigines, extension of trading hours for shops and pubs, and the compulsory wearing of seatbelts, Bolte's real passion was for economic progress. He led many delegations overseas to promote Victoria and to seek investment for its development. However he deeply divided the community with his refusal in 1967 to commute the death sentence for Ronald Ryan, who was the last person to be hanged in Australia. Bolte died of lung cancer, smoking to the end and joking that his last smoke would be in the crematorium.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2004
© Estates of Les Tanner and Gus McLaren

Accession number: 2004.175

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Les Tanner (age 42 in 1969)

Gus McLaren (age 46 in 1969)

Sir Henry Bolte KCMG (age 61 in 1969)

Subject professions

Government and leadership

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.

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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.