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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.

The Federal Leader Edmund Barton, c.1900

Nelson Illingworth

cast plaster, painted (including base: 32.8 cm x 21.8 cm depth 13.3 cm)

Under the headline ‘Mr Barton in Clay’, Sydney’s Evening News reported at the beginning of October 1898 ‘Mr Nelson Illingworth, the well-known sculptor, has just completed a half-life-sized bust in clay of Mr Edmund Barton MLA. The model was on private view at Mr Tom Roberts’s studio, in Vickery’s Chambers, yesterday afternoon. It is an excellent likeness of the federal leader, not only in facial expression, but in the general contour of the head, and the author proposes having a limited number of copies cast into bronzed terracotta for those of Mr Barton’s admirers who would care to possess so very striking a presentment of him.’ The Sydney Morning Herald reported that ‘The heavy cast of the face has been lightened, as in life, by the animation of the expression’ and that Illingworth not only proposed to issue 250 replicas of the little work, but start on a life-size reproduction ‘almost at once.’

The Barton sculpture was purchased from a venerable Sydney dealer in prints, photographs and ephemera. Often, dealers alert the National Portrait Gallery’s curators when portraits come onto the market. Major donors to the Gallery, the Liangis family, donated funds to enable this purchase, amongst many others.

Edmund Barton GCMG PC KC was Australia’s first prime minister, from January 1901 to September 1903. He spent the following sixteen years as a judge on the High Court.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased with funds provided by the Liangis family 2012

Accession number: 2012.112

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Nelson Illingworth (age 38 in 1900)

The Rt. Hon Sir Edmund Barton GCMG KC PC (age 51 in 1900)

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.

Bob Hawke, 2012 Luke Cornish
Bob Hawke, 2012 Luke Cornish
Bob Hawke, 2012 Luke Cornish
Bob Hawke, 2012 Luke Cornish

Primed

Some Prime Ministers

Previous exhibition, 2019

Seventeen of Australia’s thirty prime ministers to date are represented in the contrasting sizes, moods and mediums of these portraits.

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

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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.