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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.

Henry Lawson, c. 1919

Lionel Lindsay

pencil, charcoal, pen and ink on paper (sheet: 35.0 cm x 24.4 cm)

Henry Lawson (1867–1922), one of Australia’s defining authors, is best known for his short stories and ballads depicting the hardship of bush life. Lawson spent his childhood on a poor selection in the Mudgee district in New South Wales. He received little formal education, but he was encouraged to read widely by his mother, women’s rights activist and writer Louisa Lawson. A regular contributor to the Bulletin in the 1890s, he supported its nationalist, egalitarian and pro-union stance. In that decade, too, he wrote scores of stories and vignettes, the best of them – such as ‘The Drover’s Wife’ and ‘The Bush Undertaker’ – haunting, profoundly sad and wryly funny all at once. Despite catastrophic bouts of depression and alcoholism that turned him into a shambling, suicidal wraith, Lawson continued to write until his death in Sydney at the age of fifty-five, when he was honoured with a State funeral.

Sir Lionel Lindsay (1874–1961) was a productive watercolourist, etcher, wood engraver, black and white artist and book illustrator as well as a vocal art critic. One of ten children, five of whom became professional artists, he made many etchings and engravings of Sydney architecture and of Australian birds and animals. He used to see Lawson on the Sydney ferries, in bookshops and in pubs around the Bulletin office, recalling that ‘Henry whenever he met you, would pull up very erect and salute with a pleasant, wild smile’. Lindsay drew Lawson often. ‘He was a splendid sitter’, he wrote, ‘and seemed rather to like putting in time this way. But I have no recollections of our conversation; though I remember his excitement about an illustration I had made for one of his stories. He swore I must have seen the character drawn as it was his breathing image. I told him that his description was so good that I couldn’t have missed him. But he remained unconvinced.’

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2010

Accession number: 2010.101

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Lionel Lindsay (age 45 in 1919)

Henry Lawson (age 52 in 1919)

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.

Henry Lawson, c. 1919 Lionel Lindsay
Henry Lawson, c. 1919 Lionel Lindsay
Henry Lawson, c. 1919 Lionel Lindsay
Henry Lawson, c. 1919 Lionel Lindsay

Regarding Henrys

Magazine article by Dr Sarah Engledow, 2015

Sarah Engledow ponders the divergent legacies of Messrs Kendall and Lawson.

Lionel Lindsay portrait story video: 2 minutes
Lionel Lindsay portrait story video: 2 minutes
Lionel Lindsay portrait story video: 2 minutes
Lionel Lindsay portrait story video: 2 minutes

The Jester (Self Portrait) by Lionel Lindsay

'Comedy of Life'

Portrait story

A visual exploration of themes depicted in 'The Jester' by Lionel Lindsay.

The Jester (self portrait), 1923 Lionel Lindsay
The Jester (self portrait), 1923 Lionel Lindsay
The Jester (self portrait), 1923 Lionel Lindsay
The Jester (self portrait), 1923 Lionel Lindsay

Bloodlines

Magazine article by Michelle Fracaro, 2004

Michelle Fracaro describes Lionel Lindsay's woodcut The Jester (self-portrait).

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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.