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Janet Holmes á Court
, 2001 (printed 2011)

by Lorrie Graham

gelatin silver photograph (sheet: 49.7 cm x 41.4 cm, image: 40.0 cm x 27.0 cm)

Janet Holmes à Court AC (b. 1943), businesswoman and philanthropist, graduated in science and worked as a teacher before marrying young Perth lawyer Robert Holmes à Court in 1966. Holmes à Court acquired his flagship company, the Bell Group, in 1973; Australia’s first billionaire, he was one of the small group including Alan Bond and Rupert Murdoch who quickly built large business empires that impacted on the international economy before the crash of 1987. The couple began collecting art in 1973 and Janet Holmes à Court’s collection now runs to some four thousand items. Following her husband’s sudden death in 1990, she took over his sunken empire, building up its cattle, horse breeding, vineyards, wine and engineering concerns. She retained full ownership of the Heytesbury Group until 2008, when her son Paul succeeded her, although she is still its chairperson. She has served as chairperson of the Australian Children's Television Foundation and the West Australian Symphony Orchestra, and on the Board of the Reserve Bank of Australia; also involved with the Women’s Hospital and diabetes research, she was an advocate for a republic at the 1998 constitutional convention and has recently expressed her concerns with regard to Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers. Holmes à Court is a designated Living National Treasure.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2011
Accession number: 2011.101