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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.

Nora Heysen, 1995

Greg Weight

gelatin silver photograph on paper (sheet: 40.4 cm x 50.4 cm, image: 36.7 cm x 45.6 cm)

Nora Heysen, fourth child of South Australian landscape painter Sir Hans Heysen, grew up in Hahndorf in the Adelaide Hills. From 1926 to 1930 she studied at the School of Fine Arts in Adelaide under F Millward Grey. In 1930 her work was acquired by the Art Gallery of New South Wales and the Art Gallery of South Australia. Her first solo exhibition was held in Sydney three years later. In 1934 she travelled to London with her family, and remained in Europe until 1937 studying and painting. When she returned to Australia she returned briefly to Adelaide and before moving to Sydney, where she lived for the rest of her life. In 1938 she became the first woman to win the Archibald Prize, and in late 1943 she became the first woman to be appointed as an Australian war artist. Commissioned to depict the women’s war effort in the air force, the navy and the army, she completed more than 170 works of art before being discharged from service in New Guinea in 1946. While in New Guinea she met a doctor, Robert Black, whom she later married. Following her discharge from war service she went to London, returning to Sydney in 1948. She continued to paint, exhibit and travel with her husband. Her works are held in the collections of the National Gallery of Australia, the Australian War Memorial, the National Library of Australia, the National Portrait Gallery and several state galleries.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of Patrick Corrigan AM 2004
Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program

Accession number: 2004.71

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Greg Weight (age 49 in 1995)

Nora Heysen (age 84 in 1995)

Subject professions

Visual arts and crafts

Donated by

Patrick Corrigan AM (123 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.

Interview with Nora Heysen video: 2 minutes
Interview with Nora Heysen video: 2 minutes
Interview with Nora Heysen video: 2 minutes
Interview with Nora Heysen video: 2 minutes

Nora Heysen

'This peaceful spot'

Portrait story

Australian artist, Nora Heysen, discusses her childhood and the development of her career.

Marilyn Darling AC, 2010 Anne Zahalka
Marilyn Darling AC, 2010 Anne Zahalka
Marilyn Darling AC, 2010 Anne Zahalka
Marilyn Darling AC, 2010 Anne Zahalka

Support Crew

Magazine article by Dr Christopher Chapman, 2011

Portraits of philanthropists in the collection honour their contributions to Australia and acknowledge their support of the National Portrait Gallery.

Self portrait, 1645
Self portrait, 1645
Self portrait, 1645
Self portrait, 1645

The considered life

Magazine article by Andrew Sayers AM, 2010

Andrew Sayers asks whether a portrait can truly be the examination of a life.

We would like to thank our partners.
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Fax +61 2 6102 7001
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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.