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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.

Alexander Maurice Ramsay

1978
Robert Hannaford AM

oil on composition board (frame: 96.5 cm x 74.5 cm, support: 75.5 cm x 53.5 cm)

Alexander Ramsay CBE (1914-1978), public servant, trained and worked as a teacher before gaining his degree at the University of Adelaide in 1941. Not long after, he was a founder of a movement called Common Cause, encouraging community cooperation to achieve not only victory in war, but postwar equality of opportunity and advantage. Ramsay was the public face of the movement until 1949; it attracted thousands of members and achieved community progress. Meanwhile, in 1943, Ramsay was appointed to the South Australian Housing Trust, with which he was to remain all his life. General manager of the Trust from 1949, dubbed South Australia's 'Mr Housing', he met urgent postwar housing needs and later oversaw the establishment of Elizabeth, a whole new town on Adelaide's northern fringe. In the 1950s he elected to stay in South Australia rather than move to Canberra to direct the NCDC. He wrote a key article on 'The Public Service as Vocation' in 1969. Having served three other state premiers, under Don Dunstan he took on additional responsibilities for accommodating the especially needy and vulnerable. He was involved with a great many beneficent bodies including the ABC, the Australian Institute of Urban Studies, the Boy Scouts, Meal on Wheels and the YMCA, was a pioneer of asthma research bodies in South Australia and was Commodore of the Royal South Australian Yacht Squadron.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of Janet, Andrew, Kathryn and Eleanor Ramsay, daughters and son of Alexander Maurice Ramsay and Amy Jane Ramsay
© Robert Hannaford/Copyright Agency, 2021

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

Robert Hannaford AM (age 34 in 1978)

Alexander Ramsay (age 64 in 1978)

Subject professions

Government and leadership

Donated by

Dr Janet K. Ramsay (1 portrait)

Dr Andrew T. Ramsay (1 portrait)

Ms Kathryn A. Ramsay (1 portrait)

Professor Eleanor M. Ramsay (1 portrait)

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.

Lowitja O'Donoghue
Lowitja O'Donoghue
Lowitja O'Donoghue
Lowitja O'Donoghue

Anatomist's eye

Magazine article by Diana Warnes, 2016

Robert Hannaford has completed around 400 portraits over the span of his career. 

Lowitja O'Donoghue and Robert Hannaford

'I'm going to wear everything red, black, and yellow'

Portrait story

Lowitja O'Donoghue discusses her life and portrait by Robert Hannaford.

© National Portrait Gallery 2021
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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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