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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.

William Dakin, c. 1943

Gervaise Purcell

gelatin silver photograph on paper (sheet: 16.6 cm x 11.7 cm, image: 16.4 cm x 11.4 cm)

William Dakin (1883-1950), zoologist, came to Perth in 1913 following his appointment as chair of biology at the University of Western Australia. He was president of the Western Australian chapter of the Royal Society from 1913 to 1915, and during the war years published texts such as The Elements of Animal Biology (1918). After a period back in England, he returned to Australia to take up the role of chair of zoology at the University of Sydney in 1929, subsequently publishing books on marine biology, zoology and history. A councillor of the Commonwealth Council for Scientific and Industrial Research from 1948, he was active in developing science syllabuses for schools and for a number of years presented the radio series ‘Science in the News’ for the ABC. In 1941, he became director of camouflage for the Ministry of Home Security and published Art of Camouflage. Stressing, against opposition from the military, the difference between Australian and English environments, Dakin was instrumental in the development of camouflage specific to Australian conditions. Besides his books he published more than sixty scientific papers before retiring at the end of 1948. He was made emeritus professor and awarded the Mueller medal in 1949. His major book, some thirty years in the making, was Australian Seashores, published posthumously in 1952.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of Leigh Purcell 2012

Accession number: 2012.17

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Gervaise Purcell (age 24 in 1943)

William Dakin (age 60 in 1943)

Subject professions

Science and technology

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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.