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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.

The Mask of Barry Humphries, c. 1972

William Dargie

oil on composition board (frame: 64.5 cm x 53.2 cm, support: 52.5 cm x 41.0 cm)

Barry Humphries AO CBE (b. 1934) was well into his career as an actor and writer by the time this portrait was painted in the early 1970s. Although Humphries had long been based overseas, Dargie has commented that preparations for this portrait were made during a period when he was 'holed-up' in Melbourne. The genres of still life and portraiture are combined in this rather eerie work. Although it stands in considerable contrast to Dargie's more straightforward portraits, it is not unusual in his repertoire. He began sketching and painting from plaster models while at art school, and made paintings of busts, draped masks and sculptures from the 1930s through to the 1970s. Another portrait of Humphries depicts the sitter's head in a Chinese bowl with his hands lying alongside. The casts Dargie made of Humphries's head and hands are now in the Victorian State Library.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of Marlene McCarthy 2006
Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program

Accession number: 2006.24

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

William Dargie (age 60 in 1972)

Barry Humphries (age 38 in 1972)

Subject professions

Performing arts

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.

Professor Peter Doherty, 2001 Rick Amor
Professor Peter Doherty, 2001 Rick Amor
Professor Peter Doherty, 2001 Rick Amor
Professor Peter Doherty, 2001 Rick Amor

The Changing Face of the Scientist

Magazine article by Elizabeth Finlay, 2003

Scientists tend to conjure up images of men in white coats in labs but this is just one stereotype in an evolving history of how we have perceived scientists, and how their profession has been understood over the years.

Self portrait, late 1930s William Dargie
Self portrait, late 1930s William Dargie
Self portrait, late 1930s William Dargie
Self portrait, late 1930s William Dargie

Sir William Dargie CBE

Magazine article by Magda Keaney, 2003

Sir William Dargie, painter and eight times winner of the Archibald Prize for portraiture, died in Melbourne on July 26, 2003, aged 91.

Barry Humphries, 1958 Clifton Pugh
Barry Humphries, 1958 Clifton Pugh
Barry Humphries, 1958 Clifton Pugh
Barry Humphries, 1958 Clifton Pugh

No Laughing Matter

Magazine article by Simon Elliott, 2002

The biographical exhibition of Barry Humphries was the first display of its kind at 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.