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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.

Zelman Cowen

c. 1977
Ray Crooke AM

pencil and oil on canvas laid on chipboard (support: 45.0 cm x 36.0 cm, frame: 48.6 cm x 38.8 cm depth 3.7 cm)

The Rt Hon Sir Zelman Cowen AK GCMG GCVO QC DCL (1919–2011), academic, writer and former Governor-General, was educated at Scotch College and the University of Melbourne before serving in the navy in the Second World War. After the war, he went to Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. From 1951 to 1966 he was dean of the law faculty at the University of Melbourne, and in 1970 he became Vice-Chancellor of the University of Queensland. Seven years later, at the invitation of Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser, he succeeded Sir John Kerr as Governor-General; during his five-year term he did much to restore the status of the vice-regal post. Returning to Oxford University in the 1980s, he became Provost of Oriel College and later Pro-Vice Chancellor. He published widely on aspects of law but also attempted to enhance public comprehension of constitutional issues, particularly the question of an Australian republic. Cowen’s autobiography, A Public Life, was published in 2006.

Although best known for his landscapes, Ray Crooke AM often painted people in dim interiors against a window giving onto bright light. He won the 1969 Archibald Prize for his portrait of his friend, the writer George Johnston.

Gift of David Crooke 2011. Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program.
© Ray Crooke/Copyright Agency, 2021

Artist and subject

Ray Crooke AM (age 55 in 1977)

Rt Hon Sir Zelman Cowen AK GCMG GCVO QC DCL (age 58 in 1977)

Donated by

David Crooke (2 portraits)

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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.

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