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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.

Marianne Egan and her children Gertrude Evans Cahuac and Henry William Cahuac, 1857

an unknown artist

oil on canvas (frame: 82.0 cm x 91.5 cm depth 8.5 cm, support: 60.5 cm x 70.5 cm)

Marianne Egan and her children Gertrude Cahuac and Henry Cahuac were 38, 18 and 20 years old respectively when they died in the Dunbar maritime disaster. Marianne, Gertrude and Henry embarked on the Dunbar with 120 other passengers in May 1857, intending to return to Sydney. Having made good progress, the ship met with foul weather as it arrived off the coast of Sydney around midnight on 20 August. Missing the entrance to Sydney Harbour, the ship was driven by violent seas into cliffs near South Head and ‘rent into a thousand pieces.’ Everyone on board, with the exception of a sailor named James Johnson, perished. While images exist of the sole survivor, this is the only known portrait of victims of the tragedy. The family had sat for the portrait in England but it was unfinished at the time the Dunbar sailed. The painting followed on another vessel, arriving safely a few months after the deaths of its subjects.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased with funds provided by the Liangis family 2014

Accession number: 2014.48

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Marianne Egan (age 39 in 1857)

Gertrude Evans Cahuac (age 18 in 1857)

Henry Cahuac (age 20 in 1857)

Subject professions

Migration and colonisation

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.

Ned Kelly death mask, date unknown an unknown artist after Maximilian Kreitmayer
Ned Kelly death mask, date unknown an unknown artist after Maximilian Kreitmayer
Ned Kelly death mask, date unknown an unknown artist after Maximilian Kreitmayer
Ned Kelly death mask, date unknown an unknown artist after Maximilian Kreitmayer

Sideshow Alley

Infamy, the macabre & the portrait

Previous exhibition, 2015

Death masks, post-mortem drawings and other spooky and disquieting portraits... Come and see how portraits of infamous Australians were used in the 19th century.

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The National Portrait Gallery
The National Portrait Gallery

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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.