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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.

Portrait of Lady Eyre Williams (Jessie Gibbon), 1833

Claude-Marie Dubufe

oil on canvas (frame: 119.0 cm x 101.0 cm, support: 84.0 cm x 66.0 cm)

Jessie, Lady Eyre Williams (née Gibbon, 1815–1903), daughter of an Aberdeenshire clergyman, came to Australia in 1842, about a year after her marriage to barrister and judge, Edward Eyre Williams (1813–1880). Williams was admitted to the colonial bar soon after his arrival in Melbourne and by 1852 he had been appointed to the Supreme Court. He was active in a number of community spheres, such as the establishment of the Melbourne Hospital, and spoke in support of the abolition of convict transportation. In 1847, he and Jessie took up residence in South Yarra in an Italianate mansion named after Lake Como, Italy (where Williams is said to have proposed to his bride). Edward and Jessie lived at Como for five years before selling the estate and moving to St. Kilda, where they remained until their return to England in 1874. Edward and Jessie had two sons and two daughters; their son Hartley followed his father into the law and joined the bench of the Victorian Supreme Court in 1881.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2009

Accession number: 2009.34

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Claude-Marie Dubufe (age 43 in 1833)

Lady Jessie Eyre Williams (age 18 in 1833)

Subject professions

Migration and colonisation

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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.

Portrait of Lady Eyre Williams (Jessie Gibbon), 1833 Claude-Marie Dubufe
Portrait of Lady Eyre Williams (Jessie Gibbon), 1833 Claude-Marie Dubufe
Portrait of Lady Eyre Williams (Jessie Gibbon), 1833 Claude-Marie Dubufe
Portrait of Lady Eyre Williams (Jessie Gibbon), 1833 Claude-Marie Dubufe

Chance encounter

Magazine article by Joanna Gilmour, 2009

Joanna Gilmour explores the life and times of one of Melbourne's early socialites, Jessie Eyre Williams.

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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.