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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.

The Gallery’s Acknowledgement of Country, and information on culturally sensitive and restricted content and the use of historic language in the collection can be found here.

William Dobell

1942
Max Dupain OBE

gelatin silver photograph on paper (image/sheet: 30.3 cm x 30.1 cm)

Sir William Dobell (1899–1970), painter, was apprenticed to an architect and studied art in Sydney before leaving Australia for Europe in 1929. On his return to Sydney after a decade he managed to impress conservative and modernist art factions alike. In World War 2, before being appointed an official war artist, he served in a camouflage unit and the Civil Construction Corps; great portraits, including The Billy Boy, arose from this experience. Dobell was devastated by the fallout from his contested winning portrait of artist Joshua Smith in the 1943 Archibald Prize, but rallied to win both the Wynne Prize for landscape and the Archibald Prize in 1948. He won another Archibald in 1959, and Time commissioned his portrait of Robert Menzies for its cover in 1960. These and other successes of Dobell’s, including his knighthood, conferred in 1966, contributed to a rise in the status of artists in Australia.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of Richard King 2008
Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program

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

Max Dupain OBE (age 31 in 1942)

William Dobell (age 43 in 1942)

Subject professions

Visual arts and crafts

Donated by

Richard King (16 portraits)

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.

Sydney Ure Smith
Sydney Ure Smith
Sydney Ure Smith
Sydney Ure Smith

Dupain detective

Magazine article by Johanna McMahon, 2019

Johanna McMahon revels in history and mystery in pursuit of a suite of unknown portrait subjects.

Dr Edward MacMahon, 1959 by William Dobell
Dr Edward MacMahon, 1959 by William Dobell
Dr Edward MacMahon, 1959 by William Dobell
Dr Edward MacMahon, 1959 by William Dobell

Bill and Ted's excellent portrait.

Magazine article by Dr Sarah Engledow, 2016

Sarah Engledow on Messrs Dobell and MacMahon and the art of friendship.

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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 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