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First High Court of Australia, c. 1903

an unknown artist

albumen silver photograph (sheet: 14.8 cm x 20.5 cm)

This photograph was taken on the occasion of the first sitting of the High Court of Australia at the Supreme Court of Victoria on 6 October 1903. Seated at the centre of the group is Sir Samuel Walker Griffith (1845–1920), who was appointed the first Chief Justice of the High Court in 1903. Griffith was formerly Premier of Queensland (between 1883 and 1888) and its Chief Justice (from 1893 to 1903). Seated at left is Sir Edmund Barton GCMG KC PC (1849–1920), who, like Griffith, was a leader in the campaign for Federation. Barton became Australia’s first Prime Minister in 1901, resigning from this post on his appointment to the High Court in September 1903. Richard Edward O’Connor (1851–1912), seated at right, had served as the New South Wales Minister for Justice (1891–1893) and Solicitor General (1893), and as a Supreme Court judge (1898–1899). O’Connor contributed to the drafting of the Australian Constitution and was elected as a senator for NSW in the first federal election in 1901. As leader of the Government in the senate, O’Connor oversaw the passage of the Judiciary Bill, by which the High Court of Australia was established.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2011

Accession number: 2011.55

Currently on display: Gallery Four (Liangis Gallery)

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Artist and subject

Sir Samuel Walter Griffith (age 58 in 1903)

The Rt. Hon Sir Edmund Barton GCMG KC PC (age 54 in 1903)

Richard Edward O'Connor (age 52 in 1903)

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