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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.

Sir Donald Bradman, 1990

Bill Leak

oil on canvas (frame: 158.5 cm x 128.0 cm, support: 150.5 cm x 120.0 cm)

Sir Donald Bradman AC (1908–2001), Australia’s greatest cricketer, is regularly named the greatest player the game has ever known. During his first-class career, Bradman amassed 28 067 runs with an average of 95.14; scored 117 centuries and 37 double centuries; and six times exceeded 300 runs. His Test career spanned 20 years, and in his 80 Test innings he scored 6996 runs with an average of 99.94 – a feat unequalled in the history of Test cricket. In 1949, Bradman became the first Test cricketer ever to receive a knighthood; to date, he is the only Australian cricketer so honoured. Fifty years later, the Sport Australia Hall of Fame named him the greatest Australian athlete of the twentieth century.

Bill Leak (b. 1956), portrait painter and caricaturist, trained at the Julian Ashton art school in the mid- 1970s and began his career painting landscapes. In 1978 he left Australia to travel and study in Europe. He returned in 1982, exhibited in Sydney and worked as a cartoonist at the Bulletin. In 1985 he began a ten-year stint as an illustrator for the Sydney Morning Herald; ten years later he took on the role of chief political illustrator for the Australian. As well as his nine Walkley awards for journalism and nineteen Stanley Awards from the Australian Black and White Artists’ Society (eight of them Gold Awards), he has been an Archibald Prize finalist twelve times. Having already painted The Don for Bowral’s Bradman Museum, Bill Leak approached him again at the suggestion of Gordon and Marilyn Darling, Founding Patrons of the National Portrait Gallery, who were looking at the time for a Bradman portrait for their touring exhibition, Uncommon Australians: Towards a National Portrait Gallery. Bradman agreed to a second series of sittings, and the resulting painting was donated to the Gallery to commemorate the one-hundredth anniversary of Bradman’s birth in 2008. Leak remarked that ‘in a country where religion has largely been replaced by sport, it was easy to see my responsibility as capturing the likeness of the Almighty.’

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of L Gordon Darling AC CMG 2008
Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program
© Estate of Bill Leak

Accession number: 2008.76

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Bill Leak (age 34 in 1990)

Sir Donald Bradman AC (age 82 in 1990)

Subject professions

Sports and recreation

Donated by

L. Gordon Darling AC, CMG (6 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.

Gordon Darling interview video: 2 minutes
Gordon Darling interview video: 2 minutes
Gordon Darling interview video: 2 minutes
Gordon Darling interview video: 2 minutes

Gordon Darling

by Jiawei Shen

Portrait story

Gordon Darling talks about how Jiawei Shen came to paint his portrait.

Sir Donald Bradman portrait story video: 2 minutes
Sir Donald Bradman portrait story video: 2 minutes
Sir Donald Bradman portrait story video: 2 minutes
Sir Donald Bradman portrait story video: 2 minutes

Don Bradman

The creation of 'Our Don'

Portrait story

A portrait story that explores the life and times of legendary Australian cricketer Sir Donald Bradman.

Victor Trumper, 1905 George Beldam, Sun Electric Engraving Company
Victor Trumper, 1905 George Beldam, Sun Electric Engraving Company
Victor Trumper, 1905 George Beldam, Sun Electric Engraving Company
Victor Trumper, 1905 George Beldam, Sun Electric Engraving Company

Top shot that

Magazine article by Gideon Haigh, 2009

Gideon Haigh discusses portraits of Australian cricketers from the early 20th century

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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.