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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.

Barton and Watson

1902
G. H. Dancey

pen and ink on paper (mount: 50.7 cm x 40.5 cm, sheet: 34.5 cm x 26.5 cm)

In this cartoon, Australia’s third prime minister, Chris Watson, propels a wide-eyed Edmund Barton – the new federation’s first leader – forward by the collar. Its creator, George Henry Dancey, was the chief cartoonist for Melbourne Punch for 23 years, until 1919. After Federation in 1901, the Protectionists, under Sir Edmund Barton GCMG KC PC (1849 –1920), formed Australia’s first ministry. John Christian Watson, known as Chris Watson (1867–1941), was the first leader of the new Federal Parliamentary Labor Party, one of two opposition parties. Barton’s readiness to concede to Watson in parliament was lampooned in the press, including in Dancey’s cartoon, published with the caption ‘The real leader of the house: Labour Man Watson – “You lead all right, Edmund – with a little assistance”’. Born in Valparaiso, Chile, Watson grew up in New Zealand and left school at ten years of age. He migrated to Sydney when he was nineteen and quickly became prominent in New South Wales politics and the Trade Union movement. Barton was born in Sydney, studied law, entered the NSW parliament in 1879 and, for most of the 1890s, was the leading campaigner for Federation. In 1903, Alfred Deakin began his first term as prime minister when Barton joined the High Court bench. The following year, Watson formed Australia’s (and the world’s) first Labor government. Although his government lasted only four months, Watson’s reputation as an amiable, articulate and reliable leader remained intact.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2012

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

G. H. Dancey (age 37 in 1902)

The Rt. Hon Sir Edmund Barton GCMG KC PC (age 53 in 1902)

Hon. Chris Watson (age 35 in 1902)

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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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