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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.

The Gallery’s Acknowledgement of Country, and information on culturally sensitive and restricted content and the use of historic language in the collection can be found here.

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)

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

Purchased 2014

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. Works of art from the collection are reproduced as per the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). The use of images of works from the collection may be restricted under the Act. Requests for a reproduction of a work of art can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

Artist and subject

Bennelong (age 46 in 1810)

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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 past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

This website comprises and contains copyrighted materials and works. Copyright in all materials and/or works comprising or contained within this website remains with the National Portrait Gallery and other copyright owners as specified.

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. The use of images of works of art reproduced on this website and all other content may be restricted under the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). Requests for a reproduction of a work of art or other content can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

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