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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.

Henry Lawson

c. 1915
William Johnson

gelatin silver photograph on paper (sheet: 9.9 cm x 20.3 cm)

Henry Lawson (1867–1922), one of Australia’s best-known authors, wrote short stories and ballads depicting the hardship of bush life. Lawson spent his childhood on a poor selection in the Mudgee district in New South Wales. He received little formal education, but he was encouraged to read widely by his mother, the women’s rights activist and writer, Louisa Lawson. A regular contributor to the Bulletin in the 1890s, he supported its nationalist, egalitarian and pro-union stance. In that decade, too, he wrote scores of stories and vignettes, the best of them – such as ‘The Drover’s Wife’ and ‘The Bush Undertaker’– haunting, profoundly sad and wryly funny all at once. Despite catastrophic bouts of depression and alcoholism that turned him into a shambling wraith, Lawson continued to write until his death in Sydney at the age of 55, when he was honoured with a State funeral.

William Johnson’s portrait of Henry Lawson was taken using a ‘multiplying camera’ which enabled the creation of eight separate images on a single negative.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2012

Artist and subject

William Johnson

Henry Lawson (age 48 in 1915)

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.

Regarding Henrys

Magazine article by Dr Sarah Engledow, 2015

Sarah Engledow ponders the divergent legacies of Messrs Kendall and Lawson.

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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 National Portrait Gallery is an Australian Government Agency