Skip to main content

Ticketed entry is in place to safely manage visits to the Gallery, so please book ahead.

Menu

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.

Portrait of Bennilong, a Native of New Holland, c. 1810

an unknown artist

engraving on paper (sheet: 25.7 x 20.3, plate-mark: 21.1 cm x 16.4 cm)

More images of this artwork

Woollarawarre Bennelong (c.1764–1813) was a young man when he encountered Britain’s first fleet in Warrane. He was then a rising warrior of the Wangal Eora, whose land flanked the southern side of the Parramatta River from present-day Darling Harbour to Homebush Bay. At age 25 he and another man, Colebee, were captured on the orders of Governor Arthur Phillip, who was under instruction to establish workable relations with Indigenous locals. Colebee soon escaped, but Bennelong adapted his existence to continue as an aide and intermediary between the Eora and the British and ultimately lived comfortably between the two cultures. Bennelong’s unlikely friendship with Governor Arthur Phillip saw him and his kinsman Yemmerrawanne travel to England in 1792. Some five years after his return to Australia, Bennelong led a clan of approximately 100 people who lived west of Ryde along the Parramatta River. He died a respected man at age fifty in January 1813.

The remarkable story of Woollarawarre Bennelong is one that resonates deeply. He was a traditional man who was, against his initial will, shown a European way of life, and became an intermediary between his clan and the colonialists … The question of how we move forward while still being connected to our culture and heritage has inspired much of my life’s work. Bennelong is in all of us, as we navigate the ancient and modern elements of our lives.

Stephen Page, Yugambeh man and Artistic Director for Bennelong, Bangarra Dance Theatre, 2017

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2014

Accession number: 2014.16

Currently not on display

View zoomable image on Google Arts & Culture

Copyright image request form
Request a digital copy of an image for publication

Artist and subject

Bennelong (age 46 in 1810)

Subject professions

Indigenous identity

Related portraits

Related information

The Companion

Permanent collection catalogue

Café and shop

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.

Captain James Cook, 1837 Nathaniel Dance, William Holl, Fisher, Son & Co London
Captain James Cook, 1837 Nathaniel Dance, William Holl, Fisher, Son & Co London
Captain James Cook, 1837 Nathaniel Dance, William Holl, Fisher, Son & Co London
Captain James Cook, 1837 Nathaniel Dance, William Holl, Fisher, Son & Co London

Rethinking foundational histories

Magazine article by Kate Fullagar, 2019

A focus on Indigenous-European relationships underpins Facing New Worlds. By Kate Fullagar.

The National Portrait Gallery
The National Portrait Gallery
The National Portrait Gallery

The Gallery

Explore portraiture and come face to face with Australian identity, history, culture, creativity and diversity.

Plan your visit

Timed ticketing, location, accessibility and amenities

We would like to thank our partners.
© National Portrait Gallery 2020
King Edward Terrace, Parkes
Canberra, ACT 2600, Australia

Phone +61 2 6102 7000
Fax +61 2 6102 7001
ABN: 54 74 277 1196

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.