Skip to main content

To help keep our visitors and staff safe, please book your spot before visiting.

Menu

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 Gallery’s Acknowledgement of Country, and information on culturally sensitive and restricted content and the use of historic language in the collection can be found here.

David Low

1917
Rudolph Buchner

gelatin silver photograph sepia toned on cardboard (sheet: 22.8 cm x 14.8 cm, image: 20.0 cm x 13.0 cm)

Sir David Low (1891–1963), caricaturist, published his first cartoon in the British comic Big Budget at the age of eleven, while resident in his native New Zealand. A year later, he had left school and was contributing two cartoons a week for the Christchurch satirical weekly the Spectator. He briefly attended business college while continuing to submit cartoons for various publications, raising the occasional objection from employers for the political tendencies of some of his works. While working for the Canterbury Times, he began sending examples of his work to a score of Australian editors each week – a strategy which eventually landed him a job with the Bulletin, which brought him to Australia in 1911. He drew many caricatures, mainly of political figures, for the Bulletin and also contributed to the Lone Hand. A review of his drawings in 1915 stated: ‘Mr Low is not in the least cruel … one might even say that at times his work approaches portraiture.’ In late 1916 he was exempted from war service on the basis that his work was of national importance. His second published anthology of caricatures, The Billy Book (1918) made his name, selling 60 000 copies and invoking the wrath of its subject, Prime Minister Billy Hughes, who is said to have torn the book up when given a copy by one of his ministers. The success of The Billy Book led to a contract with the London Star. Low left Australia in 1919 and remained in England, working for a number of publications until the end of his life in London. Knighted in 1962, he had two honorary doctorates and was posthumously described as the ‘dominant cartoonist of the Western world’.

Little is known of Rudolph Buchner, a Sydney photographer, who interrupted his practice to serve in World War I but returned to the city afterwards. His sitters included Walter Burley Griffin, Louise Carbasse (later ‘Louise Lovely’) and Mary Gilmore.

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

Rudolph Buchner

David Low (age 26 in 1917)

Subject professions

Visual arts and crafts

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.

Federal Statistican Knibbs
Federal Statistican Knibbs
Federal Statistican Knibbs
Federal Statistican Knibbs

The numbers man

Magazine article by Dr Sarah Engledow, 2011

Dr. Sarah Engledow tells the story of Australia's first Federal statistician, Sir George Knibbs.

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

The Gallery

Visit us, learn with us, support us or work with us! Here’s a range of information about planning your visit, our history and more!

© National Portrait Gallery 2021
King Edward Terrace, Parkes
Canberra, ACT 2600, Australia

Phone +61 2 6102 7000
Fax +61 2 6102 7001
ABN: 54 74 277 1196

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.

The National Portrait Gallery is an Australian Government Agency