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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.

Portrait of HRH Crown Princess Mary of Denmark, 2005

Jiawei Shen

oil on canvas (frame: 232.8 cm x 155.9 cm, support: 214.0 cm x 138.0 cm)

Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Mary of Denmark (b. 1972) married Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark in Copenhagen Cathedral on 14 May 2004. Born Mary Donaldson in Hobart, she gained a bachelor’s degree in commerce and law from the University of Tasmania in 1994. Completing further qualifications in advertising, she worked as an account manager in Melbourne, Edinburgh and Sydney before travelling overseas. Returning to Sydney in 1999, she worked in advertising and real estate. She met Prince Frederik, like her, an adroit sportsperson, when he visited Sydney for the 2000 Olympic Games. Moving to Denmark in 2002, she studied Danish history and language, and worked as a project consultant, before her marriage and the birth of her children, Christian, Isabella, Vincent and Josephine, who are second to fifth in line (in that order) of succession to the Danish throne. Sitting to Jiawei Shen in Sydney, Princess Mary adopted the insignia of the Knight of the Order of the Elephant (RE). The origins of the Order date to the fifteenth century or earlier, but there is a degree of debate about how an elephant with a tower on its back found its way into Danish chivalric iconography in the first place. On designated days it is worn on a chain, but it is usually attached to a sash, as here.

Jiawei Shen (b. 1948) has completed several commissioned works for the National Portrait Gallery. Shen often juxtaposes contradictory elements in his paintings to indicate his sitter’s history or situation. In this ‘court portrait’ he has placed the Princess alongside a column based on the architecture of Amalienborg Palace in Copenhagen; through a wafting sheer curtain, beyond the dissolved tiles, lies the Sydney Opera House – designed by Danish architect Jørn Utzon.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Commissioned with funds provided by Mary Isabel Murphy 2005
© Commonwealth of Australia

Accession number: 2005.96

Currently on display: Gallery Eight (Temporary Exhibition Gallery)

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Artist and subject

Jiawei Shen (age 57 in 2005)

Crown Princess Mary Donaldson (age 33 in 2005)

Subject professions

Government and leadership

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.

Portrait of HRH Crown Princess Mary, 2006 by Ralph Heimans
Portrait of HRH Crown Princess Mary, 2006 by Ralph Heimans
Portrait of HRH Crown Princess Mary, 2006 by Ralph Heimans
Portrait of HRH Crown Princess Mary, 2006 by Ralph Heimans

Dane reign

Magazine article by Mette Skougaard and Thomas Lyngby, 2018

Mette Skougaard and Thomas Lyngby bring eloquent context to Ralph Heimans’ portraits of Crown Princess Mary and Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark.

Gordon Darling interview video: 2 minutes
Gordon Darling interview video: 2 minutes
Gordon Darling interview video: 2 minutes
Gordon Darling interview video: 2 minutes

Gordon Darling

by Jiawei Shen

Portrait story

Gordon Darling talks about how Jiawei Shen came to paint his portrait.

Interview with Jiawei Shen video: 2 minutes
Interview with Jiawei Shen video: 2 minutes
Interview with Jiawei Shen video: 2 minutes
Interview with Jiawei Shen video: 2 minutes

Princess Mary

Portrait story

Artist Jiawei Shen describes the symbolism in his portrait of HRH Crown Princess Mary of Denmark.

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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.