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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.

Theresa and James Laidley Mort, 1844

William Nicholas

watercolour and gouache on paper (mount: 49.0 cm x 42.5 cm, sheet: 32.5 cm x 26.0 cm)

Theresa Shepheard Mort (née Laidley, 1820-1869), colonial spouse, was one of eight children of civil servant James Laidley and his wife Eliza Jane (née Shepheard). Laidley served in the West Indies, Canada and Mauritius before taking up the position of Commissary General in Sydney, arriving with his family in 1827. In October 1841, Theresa married merchant, shipbuilder and wool broker Thomas Sutcliffe Mort (1816-1878). Five years later, Mort purchased land at Darling Point where the family home, Greenoaks, was built. Theresa and Thomas had eight children, seven of whom survived to adulthood. Their eldest son, Laidley James Mort was born at Greenoaks in 1843 and was later educated at Eton. Theresa was a devoted wife and mother and was also an amateur artist, taking lessons from Conrad Martens (who painted Greenoaks) in 1846 and 1847. Thomas Sutcliffe Mort's biographer has described Mort as having an 'immense love' for his wife and family; he is said to have been devastated at Theresa's death, aged 49, in 1869.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of the Mort family 2009

Accession number: 2009.91

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

William Nicholas

Theresa Mort (age 24 in 1844)

James Laidley Mort (age 1 in 1844)

Subject professions

Migration and colonisation

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.

A Sydney family, 1840s
A Sydney family, 1840s
A Sydney family, 1840s
A Sydney family, 1840s

The house, the horse, the wife and the offspring

Magazine article by Joanna Gilmour, 2009

Joanna Gilmour writes about the portraiture of the colonial artist William Nicholas.

Thomas Sutcliffe Mort and his wife Theresa, c. 1847 an unknown artist
Thomas Sutcliffe Mort and his wife Theresa, c. 1847 an unknown artist
Thomas Sutcliffe Mort and his wife Theresa, c. 1847 an unknown artist
Thomas Sutcliffe Mort and his wife Theresa, c. 1847 an unknown artist

Tiny Trace of a Colonial Giant

Magazine article by Dr Sarah Engledow, 2004

At just 7.8 x 6.2 cm, the daguerreotype of Thomas Sutcliffe Mort and his wife Theresa is one of the smallest works in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery.

Thomas Sutcliffe Mort and his wife Theresa, c. 1847 an unknown artist
Thomas Sutcliffe Mort and his wife Theresa, c. 1847 an unknown artist
Thomas Sutcliffe Mort and his wife Theresa, c. 1847 an unknown artist
Thomas Sutcliffe Mort and his wife Theresa, c. 1847 an unknown artist

Husbands and Wives

Photographic Portraits from 19th Century Australia

Previous exhibition, 2010

'I have just been to my dressing case to take a peep at you.

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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.