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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.

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Study for self portrait

c. 1965
Jean Appleton

oil on masonite (frame: 103.5 cm x 88.0 cm, support: 81.0 cm x 76.0 cm)

Jean Appleton (1911–2003), painter and art teacher, studied at the East Sydney Technical College, before travelling to London. Strongly interested in modern art, she attended the avant-garde Westminster School, where she completed what are considered some of Australia's first cubist paintings, Still Life and Painting IX (both 1937). With the outbreak of war she returned to Australia, thereafter teaching at Canberra Grammar and then at the Julian Ashton and National Art Schools in Sydney. The first of her thirteen solo exhibitions was held at Sydney's Macquarie Galleries in 1940; over decades, she was close friends with fellow Macquarie artists Grace Cossington Smith and Thea Proctor. She painted many still-life pictures, featuring flowers and fruit arranged on sunlit indoor tables, but from the 1950s onward she also painted abstract works, often inspired by landscapes and influenced by Paul Cézanne. Though her work is now represented in major collections, Appleton was like many women artists of her generation in that recognition came late in life: she was in her eighties when a public gallery first presented a retrospective exhibition of her art.

This is a study for the self portrait with which Appleton won the inaugural Portia Geach Memorial Award in 1965. Her abstract landscapes are evoked in the background to the finished self-portrait, which is more sombre than this sketchy, light-filled, rosy study.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of Laurie Curley OAM and Mrs Robyn Curley 2012
© Estate of Jean Appleton

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

Jean Appleton (age 54 in 1965)

Subject professions

Visual arts and crafts

Donated by

Laurie Curley OAM (1 portrait)

Related portraits

1. Self portrait, 1965. All Jean Appleton.

Related information

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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
Self portrait
Self portrait
Self portrait

In good company

Magazine article by Joanna Gilmour, 2015

Jean Appleton’s 1965 self portrait makes a fine addition to the National Portrait Gallery’s collection writes Joanna Gilmour.

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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.

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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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