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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 jug of Stanley Melbourne Bruce, 1925-28

Ashtead Potters Limited, Surrey, UK and Percy Metcalfe

glazed ceramic

Stanley Bruce (1883-1967) was Prime Minister from 1923 to 1929 and Australia's High Commissioner in London from 1933 to 1945. Australian-born, English-educated Bruce was a Nationalist who governed in coalition with the newly-formed Country party, summarising his policy as 'Men, Money and Markets'. He encouraged families to emigrate from Britain and settle on the land, while he secured loans from London financiers to fund infrastructure development. In turn, the British market opened up to Australian wool, wheat and other goods. After struggling with industrial relations issues, Bruce became the only Prime Minister to lose his own seat at an election. He remained an influential mediator between Britain and Australia, and was created 1st Viscount Bruce of Melbourne in 1947. The Ashtead Pottery operated in the English village of Ashtead, Surrey, between 1923 and 1935. Set up to offer employment for disabled ex-servicemen, at the peak of its production it employed forty men to produce a broad array of wares, including commemoratives and household crockery. Percy Metcalf CVO RDI was one of several promising designers who worked for Ashtead. This jug is one of a series of four modelled by Metcalf and produced between 1925 and 1928. The other jugs depicted British Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin, British Attorney General Lord Hailsham, and British Prime Minister David Lloyd George. The jugs were issued in numbered limited editions - 1000 each for the British Prime Ministers and 500 each for Hailsham and Bruce. In 1927 Metcalf won the competition to design the new Irish coinage, the design committee for which was headed by WB Yeats. Metcalf's seven coins, featuring animals important in Irish life, circulated between 1928 and 1969. His later designs include the George Cross Medal and the 1939-1945 War Medal.

In January 1929 Australian statesman Richard Casey, in London, wrote to the Australian prime minister, Stanley Bruce: ‘I see that you have agreed to the Bruce Toby Jug being sold to the public. I inquired of the potters about it and got two of them. I think they have turned out very well indeed. If you want any I can get them and send them out.’ The National Portrait Gallery’s Bruce jug was spotted by the Director and Historian on a speculative autumn afternoon’s visit to a multi-vendor antique market at Exhibition Park in Canberra. As it happens, it is number 1 of the rare Bruce jugs. Its provenance is unknown, but the possibility of a Casey connection is particularly tantalising to curators.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2006

Accession number: 2006.33

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Ashtead Potters Limited, Surrey, UK (age 2 in 1925)

Percy Metcalfe (age 30 in 1925)

Rt. Hon. Stanley Melbourne Bruce (age 42 in 1925)

Subject professions

Government and leadership

Related portraits

1. Stanley Bruce, 1937. All Barbara Tribe.

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.

Billy Hughes paperweight, n.d. an unknown artist
Billy Hughes paperweight, n.d. an unknown artist
Billy Hughes paperweight, n.d. an unknown artist
Billy Hughes paperweight, n.d. an unknown artist

Mugshots

Magazine article by Dr Sarah Engledow, 2006

A toast to the acquisition of an unconventional new portrait of former Prime Minister, Stanley Melbourne Bruce.

Sidney Myer, 1936 Paul Montford
Sidney Myer, 1936 Paul Montford
Sidney Myer, 1936 Paul Montford
Sidney Myer, 1936 Paul Montford

Four from the 30s

Magazine article by Andrew Sayers AM, 2003

Australia's tradition of sculpted portraits stretches back to the early decades of the nineteenth century and continues to sustain a group of dedicated sculptors.

Bob Hawke, 2012 Luke Cornish
Bob Hawke, 2012 Luke Cornish
Bob Hawke, 2012 Luke Cornish
Bob Hawke, 2012 Luke Cornish

Primed

Some Prime Ministers

Previous exhibition, 2019

Seventeen of Australia’s thirty prime ministers to date are represented in the contrasting sizes, moods and mediums of these portraits.

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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.