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Dr. Arthur Martin a'Beckett
, c.1840

by an unknown artist

pastel on paper (frame: 85.4 cm x 74.8 cm, sight: 63.0 cm x 51.0 cm)

Arthur Martin a’Beckett (1812–1871), doctor and parliamentarian, studied medicine in his native London and in Paris before earning distinction with his service as surgeon to the British Legion in Spain in the mid-1830s. He became a member of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1838. Later that year he left for New South Wales, encouraged by the professional advantages his barrister brother William (later Sir William a’Beckett, first Chief Justice of Victoria) was enjoying since emigrating to the colony in 1837. Arthur’s ‘indefatigable exertions, zeal and high professional knowledge’ saw him achieve an elevated rank within the Sydney medical fraternity. In addition to his private medical practice, he was a consultant surgeon to the Benevolent Asylum and an examiner for the medical faculty at the University of Sydney. Appointed a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1855, in 1856 he became one of the first appointees to the NSW Legislative Council. A’Beckett was also active in the promotion of education and the arts in NSW, serving as commissioner for its contribution to the 1855 Paris Exhibition, President of the Sydney Mechanics School of Arts, and a trustee of the Australian Museum, the Public Library and Sydney Grammar School. He died in Sydney in 1871 following ‘a short and severe illness’, survived by his wife, Emma, and six of their ten children.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra
Purchased 2014
Accession number: 2014.11