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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.

Portrait of Georges Mora, 1956

Charles Blackman

oil on paper laid on board (support: 79.0 cm x 80.2 cm)

Georges Mora (1913–1992) was born Gunter Morawski to a Leipzig Jewish bourgeois family of Polish descent. Fleeing from Nazi Germany to Paris when he was seventeen, he changed his name to Georges Mora. During the war he took an active role in the Resistance; when peace came, he worked as a patent dealer. He married Mirka Zelik, a French-born Jewish artist, in 1947 and the couple migrated to Melbourne with their first son, Philippe in 1951. Two more sons, William and Tiriel, followed. Soon the couple became friends with the city’s leading artists and collectors, including the Reeds, and were instrumental in the re- formation of the Contemporary Art Society. Over the course of the 1950s and 1960s they opened the European-style Mirka Café in Exhibition Street (the first Melbourne café with outdoor seating), the Balzac in East Melbourne (the first restaurant with a licence to serve liquor after 10pm) and the Tolarno in St Kilda. While Georges established himself as an art dealer as well as a restaurateur, Mirka became a Bohemian icon of the city. The couple separated in the early 1970s. In 1985 Georges married another artist, Caroline Williams, and they had a son, Sam, born in the same year. Made a Chevalier des Arts et Lettres in 1989, Georges was still operating the Tolarno Gallery in South Yarra when he died. William Mora can lay claim to being one of only three second-generation art dealers in business in Australia today. The Georges Mora Foundation, launched by Dame Elisabeth Murdoch in 2006, is a not-for-profit cultural foundation dedicated to the promotion of contemporary art and artists in Melbourne and Australia.

This portrait is one of three that Charles Blackman made when he and Georges Mora were working together at the Eastbourne Cafe (later the Balzac). Blackman’s former wife, Barbara, comments that it is akin to a self portrait, as she recalls that artist and sitter looked very alike.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2011
© Charles Blackman/Copyright Agency, 2020

Accession number: 2011.52

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Charles Blackman (age 28 in 1956)

Georges Mora (age 43 in 1956)

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.

Big bouquet of Blackmans

Magazine article by Dr Sarah Engledow, 2013

Dr. Sarah Engledow explores the context surrounding Charles Blackman's portrait of Judith Wright, Jack McKinney and their daughter Meredith.

Interview with Meredith McKinney video: 2 minutes
Interview with Meredith McKinney video: 2 minutes
Interview with Meredith McKinney video: 2 minutes
Interview with Meredith McKinney video: 2 minutes

The Family

by Charles Blackman

Portrait story

Meredith McKinney, subject of Charles Blackman's 'The Family', recounts memories from her childhood and the creation of the portrait.

The National Portrait Gallery
The National Portrait Gallery
The National Portrait Gallery

The Gallery

Explore portraiture and come face to face with Australian identity, history, culture, creativity and diversity.

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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.