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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.

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Marilyn Rowe

1981
Graham Thorley

oil on canvas (frame: 147.0 cm x 131.5 cm, support: 128.0 cm x 112.0 cm)

Marilyn Rowe AM OBE (b. 1946), former prima ballerina, is Artistic Director of the Australian Ballet School. Rowe was one of 23 students (all female) in the first intake of the Australian Ballet School. At that time, Rudolf Nureyev and Margot Fonteyn were guesting with the Australian Ballet, which had formed in 1962. Dame Peggy van Praagh invited Rowe to join the company at the end of 1964 and she was promoted to principal at the end of 1969. Four years later, she and Kelvin Coe won silver medals at the Second International Ballet Competition in Moscow. At the end of 1980, while pregnant with the first of her two sons, Rowe lost her husband in an air crash. She went into seclusion, but when her baby was six months old, in response to militant demands from the dancers, she returned to the Ballet as an adviser to the Artistic Director. In 1982 and 1985 she received the Green Room Award for Best Female Dancer. She was Director of the Dancers' Company from 1990 to 1995, and became Director of the Ballet School in 1999.

Painted in Graham Thorley's studio in Trentham, this work dates from shortly after Rowe was widowed for the first time. The young ballerina arrived with her mother, who looked after her baby while she posed in her Giselle costume.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of the family of Graham Thorley in his memory and in tribute to Marilyn Rowe 2010
© Estate of Graham Thorley

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

Graham Thorley (age 60 in 1981)

Marilyn Rowe AM OBE (age 35 in 1981)

Subject professions

Performing arts

Donated by

Joan Thorley (1 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 past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

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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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