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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.

John Perceval painting, 1958

Fred Williams

drypoint on paper (sheet: 26.8 cm x 27.7 cm, image: 23.4 cm x 23.5 cm)

John Perceval AO (1923-2000) was a painter and ceramic artist. Early on, along with Sidney Nolan, Arthur Boyd and Albert Tucker, he was part of a loose group of largely self-taught Australian artists, now known as the Angry Penguins, who rebelled against the conservatism of the art establishment. In the 1940s he went to work as a potter and sculptor with the Boyd family at Murrumbeena. He married Mary Boyd, younger sister of Arthur, and three of their four children became painters. Joint winner of the Wynne Prize for landscape art in 1960, Perceval remains known as one of the leading Australian landscape painters of the 1950s and 1960s. His ceramic work from the same period includes a celebrated series of representations of angels. In the 1980s his long-term alcoholism saw Perceval consigned to a psychiatric hospital. During his time there his old 'comrades of the canvas' would take him out painting, paying for his materials and models. By 1988 he had moved to an elderly persons' hostel in Kew, and was able to show some new work at a South Yarra gallery. The National Gallery of Victoria held a large retrospective of his work in 1990. Before he died, his painting Scudding Swans 1959 set the record for the highest price for a painting by a living Australian artist.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of James Mollison AO 2007
© Fred Williams

Accession number: 2007.55

Currently on display: Gallery Five (John Schaeffer Gallery)

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Artist and subject

Fred Williams (age 31 in 1958)

John Perceval AO (age 35 in 1958)

Subject professions

Visual arts and crafts

Donated by

James Mollison AO (3 portraits)

Related information

The Companion

Permanent collection catalogue

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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.

Clifton Pugh painting in the studio, 1974 Fred Williams
Clifton Pugh painting in the studio, 1974 Fred Williams
Clifton Pugh painting in the studio, 1974 Fred Williams
Clifton Pugh painting in the studio, 1974 Fred Williams

Painting mates

Magazine article by Michael Desmond, 2011

Michael Desmond discusses Fred Williams' portraits of friends, artist Clifton Pugh, David Aspden and writer Stephen Murray-Smith, and the stylistic connections between his portraits and landscapes.

Kate Hattam, 1956 Clifton Pugh
Kate Hattam, 1956 Clifton Pugh
Kate Hattam, 1956 Clifton Pugh
Kate Hattam, 1956 Clifton Pugh

Melbourne experience

Magazine article by Diana Warnes, 2007

Diana Warnes explores the lives of Hal and Katherine 'Kate' Hattam through their portraits painted by Fred Williams and Clifton Pugh.

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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.