Skip to main content

Ticketed entry is in place to safely manage visits to the Gallery, so please book ahead.

Menu

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.

Sketch portrait of Sir Alex Onslow, 1896

Tom Roberts

oil on canvas (frame: 40.2 cm x 34.7 cm, support: 32.8 cm x 27.8 cm)

Sir Alexander Campbell Onslow (1842–1908), judge, arrived in Western Australia, then under the governorship of William Robinson, to become Attorney-General in 1880. In poor health almost from the day he arrived, he took his seat as chief justice in 1883. By 1884 he had severely antagonised the new governor, Broome. Tensions between them escalated until, in 1887, Broome forbade Onslow to exercise his office. Onslow became a hero to anti-government factions, who burned Broome in effigy. He returned to the bench in May 1888, but more trouble ensued when the proprietors of leading newspapers accused him of open prejudice against them. After various enquiries, the Legislative Council found that Onslow’s occupancy of his position was an impediment to ‘peace and harmony’ in the colony. Onslow took nearly a year’s leave, but he returned to the bench in 1891, welcomed by the reinstated Robinson and a conciliatory West Australian. Retiring sick in 1901, he lived in England for the last years of his life.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased with funds provided by L Gordon Darling AC CMG 2006

Accession number: 2006.80

Currently not on display

View zoomable image on Google Arts & Culture

Copyright image request form
Request a digital copy of an image for publication

Artist and subject

Tom Roberts (age 40 in 1896)

Sir Alexander Campbell Onslow (age 54 in 1896)

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.

The sisters, 1904
The sisters, 1904
The sisters, 1904
The sisters, 1904

Beguiling impressions

Magazine article by Dr Sarah Engledow, 2012

Sarah Engledow is seduced by the portraits and the connections between the artists and their subjects in the exhibition Impressions: Painting light and life.

Practising the Minuet (Miss Hilda Spong), 1893 Tom Roberts
Practising the Minuet (Miss Hilda Spong), 1893 Tom Roberts
Practising the Minuet (Miss Hilda Spong), 1893 Tom Roberts
Practising the Minuet (Miss Hilda Spong), 1893 Tom Roberts

An actress and her fans

Magazine article by Dr Sarah Engledow, 2008

Dr. Sarah Engledow discovers the amazing life of Ms. Hilda Spong, little remembered star of the stage, who was captured in a portrait by Tom Roberts.

Radical Restraint  
Justice Michael Kirby, 1998 Ralph Heimans
Radical Restraint  
Justice Michael Kirby, 1998 Ralph Heimans
Radical Restraint  
Justice Michael Kirby, 1998 Ralph Heimans
Radical Restraint  
Justice Michael Kirby, 1998 Ralph Heimans

Judicial portraits

Magazine article by Leslie Moran, 2007

Leslie Moran investigates the portraits of judges in the National Portrait Gallery's collection.

We would like to thank our partners.
© National Portrait Gallery 2020
King Edward Terrace, Parkes
Canberra, ACT 2600, Australia

Phone +61 2 6102 7000
Fax +61 2 6102 7001
ABN: 54 74 277 1196

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.