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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.

Dora Byrne, 1951

Richard von Marientreu

oil on canvas (frame: 145.0 cm x 106.0 cm, support: 126.0 cm x 87.0 cm)

Dora Byrne (1895–1972) was the fourth child of Doretta and Stuart Alexander, the owner of a farming property near Albury, New South Wales. Dora married Leslie Nichol Walford, the youngest son of colonial Sydney businessman, William Barnard Walford, in 1917. Their only child, Leslie Nichol Walford junior, who was to achieve renown as an interior decorator, was born in 1927. Following her husband’s death in 1929, Dora became increasingly involved in charity and fundraising work. In 1936, as Dora Sheller (and a widow for the second time), she helped establish the Black & White Committee of the Royal Blind Society of NSW, and served as the Committee’s first president. In 1938, Dora left Sydney for England accompanied by Leslie and her third husband, Ben Knowles-Davies (who died in the course of the journey). In England during the war, Dora worked as a salvage officer for Winchester County Council. She married again in 1944; her fourth husband, Lawrence Byrne, was then serving with the British army. They remained in London until 1951, when they returned to Australia and settled at Burradoo in the Southern Highlands. Dora Byrne died in Sydney in 1972.

Richard von Marientreu (1902–1991) was born in Poland and attended military academies in Cracow and Vienna before leaving for Prague, where he studied at the Academy of Painting. In London from 1933, von Marientreu was introduced into fashionable society by his patron, Mrs Marie Ludlow- Symonds. He was soon in demand as a portrait painter, many of his subjects coming from high-ranking sections of the military and society, including royalty. Between 1935 and 1955, he created portraits of sitters such as King George V; Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother; and Field-Marshal Viscount Montgomery. He also exhibited regularly throughout this period, often with large scale genre paintings dealing with subjects such as mythology, war and historical scenes. His obituary in The Times recalled him as ‘a very gentle man, and immaculately turned out, choosing always to paint, no matter what the subject, in one of the same Savile Row tailored suits that he might wear to one of his exhibition openings’.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of the Estate of Leslie Walford AM 2013

Accession number: 2013.46

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Richard von Marientreu (age 49 in 1951)

Dora Byrne (age 56 in 1951)

Donated by

The Estate of Leslie Walford (3 portraits)

Related portraits

1. L.J. Brown, 1955. All Richard von Marientreu.

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.

Dame Mabel Brookes, c. 1955 William Dargie
Dame Mabel Brookes, c. 1955 William Dargie
Dame Mabel Brookes, c. 1955 William Dargie
Dame Mabel Brookes, c. 1955 William Dargie

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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.