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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.

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

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

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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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.

This website comprises and contains copyrighted materials and works. Copyright in all materials and/or works comprising or contained within this website remains with the National Portrait Gallery and other copyright owners as specified.

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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