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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.

Hattie Shepparde

1872
Bardwell's Royal Studio

carte de visite photograph (support: 10.5 cm x 6.3 cm, image: 9.5 cm x 6.0 cm)

Launceston-born dramatic artist, Hattie Shepparde (1846–1874) played throughout Australia and New Zealand in the years before her untimely death at age twenty-six. Celebrated for ‘her intelligence, her ease, the grace of her manner and her thorough devotion to her art’, Shepparde had begun her career at an early age, appearing for the first time in the burlesque of ‘Atalanta’ at the old Victoria Theatre in Adelaide. In 1851, aged five, she trod the boards at the Princess Theatre in Melbourne, appearing as a young Agnes in David Copperfield. Almost ten years later, she performed on the occasion of opening George Coppin’s Haymarket Theatre on Bourke Street, playing the memorable ‘sick gal’ in the then-notorious comedy American Cousin. Shepparde toured Ballarat, Tasmania and Adelaide before venturing to New Zealand and appearing in ‘all the towns where there was a theatre’ over a five year period. She returned to Sydney in 1870, touring the country districts of New South Wales, performing comediettas and scenes from larger plays in a portable theatre similar to a pitched tent style ‘geggy’. In her final years, she performed with much public favour for audiences in Victoria and in Adelaide, winning praise for her ‘elegant comedy and her angular versatility’. As the ‘most rising of all Melbourne actresses’, Shepparde was held in such high regard for her talent, that she was presented a valuable diamond bracelet by a Committee of ‘influential citizens’ at a reception following her appearance as Esther Eccles in Thomas Roberston’s comedy drama, Caste.

Hattie Shepparde married Henry Hallam, a tenor who sang for Allan’s Opera Company, on 8 August 1874. On 23 September it was reported that she had died the previous day, having been ‘suddenly attacked with puerperal fever’ following the birth of her first child. ‘Cultivated, elegant, graceful and painstaking, she imparted … a finish and a style not surpassed by any actress on the Melbourne stage’ one report stated, yet ‘death, with his remorseless scythe … cuts her down like a flower.’ Shepparde’s burial two days later caused even more of stir, partly because of the twelve female pallbearers (mainly actresses) and also due to the unseemly behaviour of some of the numerous ‘mourners’ assembled at the graveside. ‘The determined manner in which these women elbowed their way to the front completely dispelled the idea that their presence was caused by any feeling of sympathy for the young and gifted actress’, reported the Argus distastefully, and ‘the pall-bearers, who had followed their friend and companion to her last resting place, were rudely thrust on one side that a number of idle women might secure a position to gratify their curiosity.’ Victorian newspapers published numerous letters and editorials about the ‘outrage’, which led to calls for greater regulation of cemeteries and a crack-down on ‘larrikins and larrikinesses [who] are in the habit of making such places their haunts.’

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased with funds provided by Graham Smith 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

Bardwell's Royal Studio

Hattie Shepparde (age 26 in 1872)

Subject professions

Performing arts

Supported by

Graham Smith (18 portraits supported)

Related portraits

1. Sir George Ferguson Bowen, c. 1873. All Bardwell's Royal Studio.

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.

Lady Barkly
Lady Barkly
Lady Barkly
Lady Barkly

Carte-o-mania!

Previous exhibition, 2018

Drawn from the NPG’s burgeoning collection of cartes de visite, Carte-o-mania! celebrates the wit, style and substance of the pocket-sized portraits that were taken and collected like crazy in post-goldrush Australia.

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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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