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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 Colonel (portrait of Walter Withers)

1896
David Davies

pastel on paper (frame: 68.7 cm x 53.7 cm, sheet: 39.9 cm x 30.2 cm)

Walter Withers (1854–1914), painter, interior designer and teacher, trained at the Royal Academy in London before coming to Australia in 1882. Having travelled around Victoria, absorbing the details of the landscape, he worked as a draughtsman in Melbourne before returning to London to marry, and proceeding to Paris to undertake further art classes at the Académie Julian. After some years abroad, he returned to Melbourne, soon joining Tom Roberts, Arthur Streeton and others at their camp at Eaglemont, near Heidelberg. In 1890 he established an artists’ enclave at Charterisville, Heidelberg, where he painted and taught. The following year he opened an atelier in the city; later he moved to Creswick, where his pupils included Percy and Norman Lindsay. At various periods he was a trustee of the National Gallery of Victoria, the Public Library and the museum, and the president of the Victorian Artists’ Society. A key member of what has become known as the ‘Heidelberg School’, many of whose members had nicknames (‘Smike’, ‘Bulldog’, ‘The Prof’ – he was ‘The Colonel’), Withers is represented in most major Australian galleries, as well as the large regional galleries of Victoria.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2009

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

David Davies (age 32 in 1896)

Walter Withers (age 42 in 1896)

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.

Tea time, c.1898–1902 by Rupert Bunny (1864–1947)
Tea time, c.1898–1902 by Rupert Bunny (1864–1947)
Tea time, c.1898–1902 by Rupert Bunny (1864–1947)
Tea time, c.1898–1902 by Rupert Bunny (1864–1947)

Impressions

Painting light and life

Previous exhibition, 2011

Impressions: Painting light and life presents portraits by, and of, artists at the heart of Australian impressionism including Tom Roberts, Arthur Streeton and Frederick McCubbin.

The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance
The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance
The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance
The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance

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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.

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