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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.

Geoffrey Tozer, 1966

Rollo Thomson

oil on canvas board (frame: 58.0 cm x 47.8 cm, support: 51.0 cm x 41.0 cm)

Geoffrey Tozer (1954–2009), pianist, achieved national fame as a child prodigy in the 1960s. The son of pianist and musician Veronica Tozer, he was born at a hill station in the Himalayas and lived in India until the age of four. At nine, he played Bach’s Concerto in F Minor with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, and at ten, he played Haydn’s Concerto in D major at the Myer Music Bowl. The youngest-ever recipient of a Churchill Fellowship, which he gained at thirteen, he proceeded to perform around the world, winning the Rubinstein medal in 1977 and 1980. Tozer was living in Canberra, teaching music at St Edmund’s College, when the then-Treasurer Paul Keating heard him play. His brilliance inspired Keating to establish the Australian Artists’ Creative Fellowships. Through Keating, Tozer was introduced to the head of Chandos Records in the UK; he subsequently recorded Medtner’s piano works for the label. The only Australian yet nominated for the Best Classical Performance Grammy (in 1992), he won the Diapason d’Or that year and the Gramophone Critics’ Recording of the Year award in 1997. Keating’s support of the artist attracted malicious local comment and Tozer last performed with a major Australian orchestra in 1996. Subsequently, he amassed numerous international performances, including a performance of the Yellow River Concerto in China which was broadcast live to some 80 million viewers. His career declined after 2006, as did his health.

Rollo Thompson, a member of Melbourne’s smart young set, began painting in the mid-1920s and exhibited flower pieces and portraits regularly from the 1930s, when she had her studio in the ballroom of Cloverdale House, Toorak.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of the Estate of Geoffrey Tozer 2012

Accession number: 2012.233

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Rollo Thomson

Geoffrey Tozer (age 12 in 1966)

Subject professions

Performing arts

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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.

Miranda Otto, 1997 Montalbetti+Campbell
Miranda Otto, 1997 Montalbetti+Campbell
Miranda Otto, 1997 Montalbetti+Campbell
Miranda Otto, 1997 Montalbetti+Campbell

Eye to eye

Previous exhibition, 2019

Eye to Eye is a summer Portrait Gallery Collection remix arranged by degree of eye contact – from turned away with eyes closed all the way through to right-back-at-you – as we explore artists’ and subjects’ choices around the direction of the gaze.

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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.