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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.

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, painter, studied at the East Sydney Technical College before proceeding, via cargo ship, to London in 1935. She was strongly interested in modern art and studied under the adventurous Mark Gertler and Bernard Meninsky at the avant-garde Westminster School. In London, she was part of a fun-loving group of Australian artists who worked on a mural and a giant gilded ram for the Wool Secretariat pavilion at the 1938 Empire Exhibition in Glasgow. With the outbreak of war she returned to Australia, thereafter teaching at high schools in the ACT and NSW and 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. Appleton 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 rivers or rocks and influenced by Cezanne.

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 and dragging in every respect 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

Accession number: 2012.54

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Jean Appleton (age 54 in 1965)

Subject professions

Visual arts and crafts

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, 1965 Jean Appleton
Self portrait, 1965 Jean Appleton
Self portrait, 1965 Jean Appleton
Self portrait, 1965 Jean Appleton

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 both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.