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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.

Sir Henry Parkes, c. 1889

an unknown artist

glass plate positive (support: 8.1 cm x 8.1 cm, image: 7.3 cm x 5.2 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 union of the colonies (Federation). Parkes was a man of meagre formal education but immense energy, and his stints as premier were only one aspect of a multifarious life encompassing three marriages; many children; five volumes of verse; several prose works; numerous pamphlets; hundreds of letters; and a series of reversals of fortune, including several bankruptcies. By 1881, 25 years after winning his seat on the first New South Wales Legislative Assembly, he was recognised abroad as 'the most commanding figure in Australian politics'. Near the end of his political career, in October 1889, he made the speech at Tenterfield, New South Wales, that earned him the title of Father of Federation, calling for a federal convention to work out 'a great National government for all Australia'. Three years later, after the first Federal Convention in 1891, he completed his book Fifty Years in the Making of Australian History (1892).

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of Adrian McGlusky 2013

Accession number: 2013.45

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Hon. Sir Henry Parkes GCMG (age 74 in 1889)

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, 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 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.