Skip to main content

Franco and Amina Belgiorno-Nettis, 1991 (printed 2011)

Gary Ede

inkjet print (sheet: 48.4 cm x 60.9 cm, image: 42.5 cm x 50.7 cm)

Franco Belgiorno-Nettis AC CBE (1915 -2006), industrialist, engineer and patron of the arts, attended the Turin Military Academy and served in the Italian army in North Africa during World War II. After three years at an allied POW camp in India, he returned to Italy to complete his studies in engineering at the University of Turin. He came to Australia in 1951 as an employee of Italian engineering firm Electric Power Transmission (an off-shoot of Milan-based Societa' Anonima Elettrificazione), which was constructing powerlines. In 1956 Belgiorno-Nettis and a colleague, Carlo Salteri, established Transfield, which became the largest construction and engineering firm in the Southern Hemisphere. In 1959 he funded the Transfield Art Prize, the largest art prize in Australia; fourteen years later, he was instrumental in the foundation of the Biennale of Sydney (he is now credited as its Founding Governor). He was a Trustee of the Art Gallery of New South Wales from 1974. Amina Cerino-Zegna, the daughter of a prosperous northern Italian family, met Franco Belgiorno-Nettis at a dance. Her father, an engineer, approved of the match. In 1951, the couple wed by proxy, with Franco, in Australia on business, represented at the altar of Turin Cathedral by his brother. Joining her husband in Australia, Amina raised their three sons, Marco Belgiorno-Zegna and Luca and Guido Belgiorno-Nettis, born between 1953 and 1959. (In 2000, there was an acrimonious and litigious s split between Marco and the rest of the family; Luca and Guido are now joint Managing Directors of Transfield.) For many years Franco and Amina divided their time between Sydney and Florence. Following Franco's death in Italy in 2006, the family gave $4 million to the Art Gallery of New South Wales for the purchase of contemporary artworks, which are now displayed in a gallery space that bears the family name. Amina is a Governor of the Biennale of Sydney, as is her son Luca.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2011

Accession number: 2011.64

Currently not on display

Copyright image request form
Request a digital copy of an image for publication

Artist and subject

Gary Ede (age 45 in 1991)

Franco Belgiorno-Nettis AC CBE (age 76 in 1991)

Amina Belgiorno-Nettis (age 76 in 1991)

© National Portrait Gallery 2020
King Edward Terrace, Parkes
Canberra, ACT 2600, Australia

Phone +61 2 6102 7000
Fax +61 2 6102 7001
ABN: 54 74 277 1196
The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Ngunnawal people, the traditional custodians of the land upon which the NPG stands.