Skip to main content

The National Portrait Gallery is temporarily closed to the public until further notice.

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.

John Burton

1951
an unknown artist

gelatin silver photograph on paper (sheet: 25.1 cm x 19.9 cm, image: 24.8 cm x 19.6 cm)

John Burton (1915-2010), public servant, author and academic, was educated in Sydney and at the London School of Economics, where he gained his doctorate on a Public Service Scholarship in 1942. Returning to Australia, he rejoined the Commonwealth Public Service, in which he had worked before the war as a postal clerk. During World War 2 he accompanied 'Doc' Evatt on missions to the US and the UK, and he represented Australia at several major international conferences during the 1940s. In 1947, aged 32, he was appointed Permanent Head of the Department of External Affairs, a position he held until he was appointed High Commissioner to Ceylon in 1951. He resigned this post almost immediately to contest the Federal election as a Labor candidate in New South Wales, but was defeated. While farming in the Weetangera district, now suburban Canberra, he bought a Kingston book shop and hawked his stock from a bus throughout the local region, while he wrote, travelled, lectured and engaged in left party politics. His first book, The Alternative: A dynamic approach to Australian relations with Asia was published in 1954, and his second, Peace Theory: Preconditions of disarmament, written while he held a Fellowship at the ANU, in 1962. In 1964 he took a teaching position at University College, London, where he became co-Director of the Centre for the Analysis of Conflict. He lectured at the University of Kent before retiring and moving to the US, where he taught and helped to establish a number of university centres for conflict analysis and resolution. Burton has became known as a founder of the field of international conflict resolution through his books, which include International Relations: A general theory (1965), Deviance, Terrorism and War (1979), Global Conflict: The domestic sources of International Crisis (1983, Chinese translation 2007), Conflict Resolution: Theory and practice (1986), Conflict Resolution: Its language and processes (1996) and Violence Explained (1997).

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of Mr and Mrs John Burton 2007

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. Works of art from the collection are reproduced as per the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). The use of images of works from the collection may be restricted under the Act. Requests for a reproduction of a work of art can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

Artist and subject

John Burton (age 36 in 1951)

Subject professions

Education and research

Donated by

Betty Nathan (1 portrait)

John Burton (1 portrait)

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.

Jessie Street
Jessie Street
Jessie Street
Jessie Street

Australia’s great internationalists

Magazine article by Penelope Grist, 2016

Penelope Grist explores the United Nations stories in the Gallery’s collection.

The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance
The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance
The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance
The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance

The Gallery

Visit us, learn with us, support us or work with us! Here’s a range of information about planning your visit, our history and more!

© National Portrait Gallery 2021
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 past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

This website comprises and contains copyrighted materials and works. Copyright in all materials and/or works comprising or contained within this website remains with the National Portrait Gallery and other copyright owners as specified.

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. The use of images of works of art reproduced on this website and all other content may be restricted under the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). Requests for a reproduction of a work of art or other content can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

The National Portrait Gallery is an Australian Government Agency