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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.

Self portrait, 1950

Eric Westbrook

pencil on paper (sheet: 26.9 cm x 24.4 cm)

Eric Westbrook was the Director of the National Gallery of Victoria from 1956 to 1973. Westbrook trained at London's Westminster School of Art, going to Paris in 1934 to see contemporary painting. Rejected for war service on the basis of his puniness, he became director of the Wakefield Gallery in Yorkshire in 1946. After a spell as chief exhibitioner for the British Council, he was appointed director of the Auckland Art Gallery, where he remained for four years. At the age of 41 he became director of the Melbourne gallery, then attached to the Library and Museum. After the government of Sir Henry Bolte approved a new building on St Kilda Road for the gallery, he was strenuously involved with its design, visiting 122 galleries and museums with architect Roy Grounds to refine the vision for the new venue. Determined to attract a new visitorship, by 1972, four years after its opening, Westbrook could boast attendance figures averaging 1 million people per year. Westbrook continued to create art in secret throughout his career; in 1966 he was awarded a Carnegie Fellowship to study and lecture in the US. After he retired, he was inaugural head of the Victorian Ministry for the Arts for five years, during which period he oversaw the foundation of the Victorian Tapestry Workshop amongst other projects. In 1990 he and his second wife, artist Dawn Sime, held a joint exhibition at the Castlemaine Gallery. Upon his death fifteen years later, he left four works by himself and seven by Sime to the NGV. The NGV's administration building is named in his honour.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2007

Accession number: 2007.10

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Eric Westbrook (age 35 in 1950)

Subject professions

Visual arts and crafts

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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.