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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.

Field Marshal the Lord Birdwood, 1938

Barbara Tribe

cast plaster, patinated (including base: 57.2 cm x 47.3 cm depth 32.2 cm)

William Birdwood KCMG KCSI KCB DSO, 1st Baron Birdwood of Anzac and Totnes (1865–1951) commanded the Australian Corps for much of the First World War. Birdwood served with distinction on Lord Kitchener’s staff during the Boer War. When the First World War began, Kitchener put him in command of the Australian and New Zealand forces bound for Europe. He met them in Egypt at the end of 1914; four months later they landed at Gallipoli. Here Birdwood regularly visited the front lines, and swam daily at the place he named Anzac Cove. Though opposed to it, he oversaw the successful withdrawal of troops in December 1915. Soon after, the ANZAC Corps was split in two. Birdwood accompanied I ANZAC Corps to France, and directed its operations throughout 1916 and 1917; he took command of the Australian Corps when it was formed from the five AIF divisions in November 1917. Despite his having led them through disastrous Western Front actions, Birdwood won far more respect from Australian soldiers than did most British senior commanders.

Barbara Tribe studied with Rayner Hoff at East Sydney Technical College and in 1935 became the first woman and the first sculptor to win the New South Wales Travelling Art Scholarship. She remained in the UK after her scholarship expired, working in the Inspectorate of Ancient Monuments during the war and afterwards at the Penzance School of Arts. Birdwood posed for Tribe in her Kensington studio, wearing medals that he had purposely withdrawn from the bank.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of the Estate of the late Barbara Tribe 2009

Accession number: 2009.47

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Barbara Tribe (age 25 in 1938)

William Birdwood KCMG KCSI KCB DSO (age 73 in 1938)

Subject professions

Military

Donated by

Barbara Tribe Estate (2 portraits)

Related information

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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.

General Birdwood, the Idol of Anzac, taking a dip in the sea after a hard days work 1915
General Birdwood, the Idol of Anzac, taking a dip in the sea after a hard days work 1915
General Birdwood, the Idol of Anzac, taking a dip in the sea after a hard days work 1915
General Birdwood, the Idol of Anzac, taking a dip in the sea after a hard days work 1915

In the thick of it

Magazine article by Dr Sarah Engledow, 2010

Projecting the splendour of the empire, and the resolve of its subjects, the bust of William Birdwood keeps a stiff upper lip in the National Portrait Gallery.

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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.