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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.

Murray Rose, Jon Henricks and John Devitt, 1955

Ern McQuillan

gelatin silver photograph on paper (image/sheet: 40.5 cm x 30.3 cm)

Murray Rose AM (1939-2012), freestyler, was untouchable over 400 and 1 500 metres in the late 1950s, setting a total of 15 world records. Coached by Sam Herford, he won three gold medals at the 1956 Melbourne Olympics and a gold, a silver and a bronze in 1960. He won four gold at the 1962 Commonwealth Games, and broke the world record in the 880 yards that year. His vegetarian diet, which included seaweed, saw him dubbed ‘the Seaweed Streak’. After his retirement from swimming, Rose lived in the USA, where he worked with the Los Angeles Lakers from 1987 to 1994. Jon Henricks (b. 1935), freestyler, started his career as a distance swimmer, scoring his first good results in 1952. After coach Harry Gallagher converted him to sprints, he trained regularly against Dawn Fraser, and shocked everyone by breaking the Olympic record for 100m in the Australian Championships of 1953. He won gold at the 1956 Olympics in the 100m and 4 x 200m. John Devitt AM (b. 1937), freestyler and swimming administrator, is best known for his split-decision win over Lance Larson in the 100m freestyle at the 1960 Rome Olympics. He won two gold medals as popular captain of the Australian Olympic Team in both 1956 and 1960.

Ern McQuillan (b. 1926) grew up in the inner western suburbs of Sydney and started taking photos after acquiring a box Brownie as a boy. In the early 1940s he worked as a copy boy for the Truth and Sportsman newspapers before being offered a cadetship with the Daily Mirror. After war service with the military history unit, he joined Australian Consolidated Press in 1948 and then went freelance a decade later, before returning to ACP as a photographer for the Australian Women’s Weekly and Bulletin. The son of boxing trainer Ern McQuillan senior and at one time a professional fighter, McQuillan gave up boxing when his news editor complained that he looked too beaten up to go out on assignment. McQuillan was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in 1998 for his services to news photography.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased with funds provided by L Gordon Darling AC CMG 2004

Accession number: 2004.42

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Ern McQuillan (age 29 in 1955)

Murray Rose AM (age 16 in 1955)

Jon Henricks

John Devitt

Subject professions

Sports and recreation

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.

Betty Cuthbert, 1955 (printed 2003) Ern McQuillan
Betty Cuthbert, 1955 (printed 2003) Ern McQuillan
Betty Cuthbert, 1955 (printed 2003) Ern McQuillan
Betty Cuthbert, 1955 (printed 2003) Ern McQuillan

Hop, skip, shoot

Magazine article by Simon Elliott, 2004

Former NPG Deputy Director, Simon Elliott talks with Ern McQuillan about his life and career as a sports photographer.

Elizabeth, 2019 Anthea da Silva
Elizabeth, 2019 Anthea da Silva
Elizabeth, 2019 Anthea da Silva
Elizabeth, 2019 Anthea da Silva

Darling Portrait Prize

Current exhibition

from Friday 6 March

The Darling Prize is a new annual prize for Australian portrait painters, painting Australian sitters. The winner receives a cash prize of $75,000.

Andy Thomas, 2002 Montalbetti+Campbell
Andy Thomas, 2002 Montalbetti+Campbell
Andy Thomas, 2002 Montalbetti+Campbell
Andy Thomas, 2002 Montalbetti+Campbell

Uncommon Australians

The vision of Gordon and Marilyn Darling

Previous exhibition, 2015

This exhibition showcases portraits acquired through the generosity of the National Portrait Gallery’s Founding Patrons, L Gordon Darling AC CMG and Marilyn Darling AC.

We would like to thank our partners.
© National Portrait Gallery 2020
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 both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.