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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 Hudson Fysh, 1950

William Dobell

oil on composition board (frame: 133.5 cm x 113.0 cm, support: 101.5 cm x 81.0 cm)

Sir Hudson Fysh KBE DFC (1895–1974) was one of Australia’s great aviation administrators. Born in Launceston, Tasmania, he enlisted at the beginning of World War I and served in the Australian Flying Corps, winning the Distinguished Flying Cross. In 1919 he qualified as a pilot. Later that year he was commissioned by the government to survey the Darwin to Longreach section of the Britain-Australia Air Race, which lack of funds had prevented him from entering. In November 1920 Fysh and Pat McGinnis, who had driven with him on the survey, joined two others to form Queensland and Northern Territory Aerial Services Ltd (QANTAS). Fysh became managing director of the company in 1923, but continued to work as a pilot over the next seven years as QANTAS established various routes and functions in Queensland, including an air ambulance service. In 1934, in partnership with Imperial Airways, QANTAS began to operate the Singapore-Australia air route, trading as Qantas Empire Airways (QEA). Six years later Fysh became a director of Tasman Empire Airways Ltd, which flew to and from New Zealand. Fysh oversaw further expansion of QEA, and its purchase by the Australian government, before retiring as the company’s managing director in 1955 and chairman in 1966. Between 1965 and 1973, he published three autobiographical volumes covering the history of Qantas; a biography of Henry Reed, a key figure in the early development of Launceston; and book on trout fishing, Round the Bend in the Stream.

William Dobell (1899–1970) was commissioned to paint Fysh for the thirtieth anniversary of Qantas in 1950. Though he and his wife liked it, Fysh described the painting as ‘rather a shock to some people’. It was, he said, ‘a magnificent piece of work of a great master, but the treatment of the face… made me look so dissipated and haggard as to cause me to remark that if someone in fifty years’ time were told that the subject was a founder of the great airline Qantas, he would refuse to believe it.’

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of the Australian War Memorial in association with the Fysh family 2008
© William Dobell/Copyright Agency, 2020

Accession number: 2008.77

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

William Dobell (age 51 in 1950)

Sir Hudson Fysh KBE DFC (age 55 in 1950)

Subject professions

Business, trades and industry

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.

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.

Sir Lawrence Wackett, c. 1961 William Dargie
Sir Lawrence Wackett, c. 1961 William Dargie
Sir Lawrence Wackett, c. 1961 William Dargie
Sir Lawrence Wackett, c. 1961 William Dargie

Starry knight

Magazine article by Dr Sarah Engledow, 2010

Aircraft designer, pilot and entrepreneur, Sir Lawrence Wackett rejoins friends and colleagues on the walls of the National Portrait Gallery.

Sir Charles Lloyd Jones, 1951 William Dobell
Sir Charles Lloyd Jones, 1951 William Dobell
Sir Charles Lloyd Jones, 1951 William Dobell
Sir Charles Lloyd Jones, 1951 William Dobell

Home and away

Magazine article by Dr Sarah Engledow, 2009

Sir William Dobell painted the portraits of Sir Charles Lloyd Jones and Sir Hudson Fysh, who did much to promote the image of Australia in this country and abroad.

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© National Portrait Gallery 2020
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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.