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Sir Edward Holden
, 1945

by Leslie Bowles

cast bronze on granite base (including base: 43.0 cm x 20.0 cm depth 24.0 cm)

Sir Edward Wheewall Holden (1885–1947) was an industrialist and politician. During the Boer War his family’s Adelaide saddlery business won large contracts, and later branched into motor-body trimming. Holden’s Motor Body Builders Ltd was formed in 1917, after Edward Holden designed a prototype standard body for imported chassis. Holden’s grew exponentially, and in 1923 began producing bodies for the American-owned General Motors. Holden oversaw its further expansion, incorporating the latest in automated technology. In 1931 GM bought the company – undertaking to maintain its Australian character – and Holden became chairman of General Motors-Holden’s Ltd. He served as a Liberal member of the Legislative Council from 1935 to 1947 and was knighted in 1945. Thereafter he continued his corporate service with bodies including the South Australian Industries Assistance Corporation, the Chamber of Commerce and the Bank of Adelaide. His energetic contribution to public life was perpetuated by his daughter Nancy (later Dame Nancy Buttfield), the first South Australian woman in an Australian parliament.

Leslie Bowles was born in Sydney and began his studies in modelling and carving in Brisbane. In 1910 he won a scholarship to study at the South London School of Sculpture and the Royal Academy School. After serving in the Royal Tank Corps in France from 1914 to 1919, he returned to Australia and worked on the production of dioramas for the Australian War Memorial. He was head sculptor at the Memorial from 1925 to 1931.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Bequest of John J Holden 2005
Accession number: 2005.95