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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 Frost, 1839

an unknown artist and W Read (engraver)

engraving on paper (sheet: 52.5 cm x 38.0 cm, plate-mark: 41.0 cm x 30.0 cm, image: 35.5 cm x 25.0 cm)

John Frost (1784-1877), political convict, became a radical agitator while working as a draper and tailor in his native Newport, Monmouthshire. He had already been gaoled for libel when he became Mayor of Newport in 1836. In late 1839 he led a band of Chartist miners in an armed attack in Newport; arrested, he was sentenced to be hung, drawn and quartered, but was sent to Hobart Town instead. Arriving in 1840, he was treated as a political prisoner, with special privileges including clerical employment. Later, he became a schoolmaster, and was commended for doing well in the role. After working in various locations, he received a conditional pardon in 1854 and duly sailed for America. Returning to England two years later, he lectured and published on the Horrors of Convict Life (1856) and penned A Letter to the People of Great Britain and Ireland on Transportation (1857). He lived for another twenty years, becoming less political and more spiritual as time wore on.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2009

Accession number: 2009.129

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

W Read

John Frost

Subject professions

Law and justice

Related information

The Companion

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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.

Ned Kelly death mask, date unknown an unknown artist after Maximilian Kreitmayer
Ned Kelly death mask, date unknown an unknown artist after Maximilian Kreitmayer
Ned Kelly death mask, date unknown an unknown artist after Maximilian Kreitmayer
Ned Kelly death mask, date unknown an unknown artist after Maximilian Kreitmayer

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Infamy, the macabre & the portrait

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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.