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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 crimson thread of kinship' Henry Parkes

c. 1898
Nelson Illingworth

painted terracotta (including base: 45.6 cm x 23.5 cm depth 14.5 cm)

The Hon. Sir Henry Parkes gcmg (1815–1896) was five times premier of New South Wales between 1872 and 1891, and a consistent advocate for Federation, or union of the colonies. The inscription on this bust quotes from a speech Parkes made in his seventies (a decade of his life in which he was twice remarried – to much younger women – and fathered a child). It was toward the end of his political career, in October 1889, that he gave his famous oration at Tenterfield, northern New South Wales, calling for a federal convention. The Federal Convention came to pass in Melbourne in February 1890. There Parkes responded to a toast to ‘A United Australia’, by asserting that ‘the crimson thread of kinship runs through us all’.

Nelson Illingworth trained in sculpture in England and worked at the Royal Doulton potteries for nine years before moving to Australia. In the 1890s he set up the Denbrae Fine Art Pottery in Sydney to make a range of flowerpots, fernpots and statuettes. Amongst his many portrait heads, busts and statuettes are a bust and a life-or-death mask of Henry Lawson, and a life-sized statue of Parkes which was praised as ‘really charming … depicting the late statesman in a very faithful pose . . . The posture chosen gives life to the figure, which is excellent in every particular.’

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

Nelson Illingworth (age 36 in 1898)

Hon. Sir Henry Parkes GCMG

Subject professions

Government and leadership

Supported by

Mrs Sortiria Liangis AM (12 portraits supported)

Related information

The Companion

Permanent collection catalogue

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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.

Self portrait, 1645
Self portrait, 1645
Self portrait, 1645
Self portrait, 1645

The considered life

Magazine article by Andrew Sayers AM, 2010

Andrew Sayers asks whether a portrait can truly be the examination of a life.

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The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance
The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance
The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance

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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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