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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.

John Schaeffer AO - art collector and philanthropist

2014
Evert Ploeg

oil on canvas (support: 152.0 cm x 152.0 cm)

John Schaeffer AO (1941–2020), businessman, connoisseur and philanthropist, was a founding benefactor of the National Portrait Gallery. Schaeffer came to Australia in 1960 from Holland and began working in suburban Woolworths stores. In the early 1970s, when his store’s cleaner resigned, Schaeffer took on his business, which employed 25. Over time, he built up the commercial cleaning and security company Tempo, which peaked at about 23,000 employees before its collapse in the recession of the early 2000s. From the mid-1980s, Schaeffer bought major works by English Pre Raphaelite artists; loans from his collection underpinned several major Australian and international exhibitions. In 2003, while a member of the National Portrait Gallery’s board, Schaeffer donated George Lambert’s bravura Self-portrait with gladioli from his own collection. John Webber’s portrait of Cook – secured against intense international competition, with half the funds donated by John Schaeffer and Robert Oatley, and half by the Australian government – contributed most persuasively to the establishment of Australia’s National Portrait Gallery as a permanent institution in purpose-built premises by 2008. Schaeffer is also a major benefactor of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, the National Gallery of Victoria and the University of Sydney.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased with funds provided by Harold Mitchell AC
© Evert Ploeg/Copyright Agency, 2021

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

Evert Ploeg (age 51 in 2014)

Mr John Schaeffer AO (age 74 in 2014)

Supported by

Harold Mitchell AC (2 portraits supported)

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.

Deborah Mailman by Evert Ploeg

Portrait story

An interview with artist Evert Ploeg about his portrait of the Australian actor Deborah Mailman.

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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.

The National Portrait Gallery is an Australian Government Agency