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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.

Aborigines at Oyster Cove, Tasmania

1858 (printed 1890s)
Francis Nixon

glass plate negative (sheet: 8.2 cm x 10.5 cm)

Trukanini (c. 1812–1876) is arguably nineteenth century Australia’s most celebrated Indigenous leader. A Nuennone woman and the daughter of Mangana, chief of the Recherche Bay people, Trukanini experienced the loss of her mother, sister and intended husband – all as a result of white violence – at a young age. Believing that she might be able to assist in protecting her people, in 1829 Trukanini joined the group of Palawa leaders associated with George Augustus Robinson, an evangelically-inclined free settler who'd been appointed to effect the removal of Tasmania's Aboriginal people to a mission station, Wybalenna, on Flinders Island in Bass Strait. Trukanini remained one of Robinson's most important companions throughout the course of his so-called 'Friendly Mission', the name given to a series of journeys conducted by Robinson between 1830 and 1835. Trukanini went to Wybalenna in 1835, but held to her traditional ways despite the expectation that the Aboriginal people there would adopt European customs and religion. She travelled with Robinson in 1839 to the Port Phillip district, where she later engaged with four others in raids against white settlers. She returned to Flinders Island in 1842; when Wybalenna closed in 1847, Trukanini was among the remaining residents relocated to Oyster Cove, a former convict depot south of Hobart and close to her traditional country. Trukanini died in Hobart in May 1876. As she had feared, her skeleton was stolen from her grave and later displayed at the Tasmanian Museum. The Tasmanian Aboriginal community eventually won the fight to have her wishes honoured: her bones were cremated on the 30th of April 1976 and the following day her ashes were scattered with due ceremony on the D'Entrecasteaux Channel. Trukanini was erroneously referred to during her lifetime and beyond as the ‘last Tasmanian’ – a false notion attested to by the many descendants of her contemporaries still living in Tasmania today.

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

Francis Nixon (age 55 in 1858)

Trukanini (age 46 in 1858)

Flora

Mary Ann (age 39 in 1858)

Wapperty

Emma (age 51 in 1858)

Patty (age 61 in 1858)

Caroline

Bessy Clark (age 33 in 1858)

Tippo (age 38 in 1858)

Subject professions

Government and leadership

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.

The Conciliation, 1840 by Benjamin Duterrau
The Conciliation, 1840 by Benjamin Duterrau
The Conciliation, 1840 by Benjamin Duterrau
The Conciliation, 1840 by Benjamin Duterrau

The art of conciliation

Magazine article by Gareth Knapman, 2017

Gareth Knapman explores the politics and opportunism behind the portraits of Tasmania’s Black War.

Francis Russell Nixon
Francis Russell Nixon
Francis Russell Nixon
Francis Russell Nixon

Sketches and sermons

Magazine article by Jessica Smith, 2009

Jessica Smith looks at the 'fetching' portrait of Tasmania's first Anglican Bishop, Francis Russell Nixon by George Richmond

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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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