Skip to main content

We’re thrilled to welcome you back to the Gallery! Please see what we need you to do first.

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.

James T. Donovan, 1892

Tom Roberts

oil on canvas (frame: 54.5 cm x 50.0 cm, support: 33.3 cm x 28.5 cm)

James T Donovan (1861-1922), journalist, Catholic historian and amateur singer, was born into an Irish Catholic family in Sydney. His father had a shop that was the first outlet for the Freeman’s Journal, a Sydney-based journal of Irish and Catholic news and affairs. James began work for the paper at a young age; he was its sub-editor for many years, as well as a contributor to several other Sydney and Melbourne newspapers. While in his early twenties, he wrote The most Rev. Roger Bede Vaughan, D.D., O.S.B., Archbishop of Sydney, life and labours : containing an account of his career from opening to close, a review of his writings, speeches and ecclesiastical work : together with some personal sketches never before published (1883). His biography of Moran, His Eminence, Australia's first cardinal, prince of the church and public man: an appreciation of Cardinal Moran's work as prelate and philanthropist, scholar and statesman: in celebration of his sacerdotal golden jubilee was published in 1902. Over the 1890s Donovan established a reputation as a melodious singer and elocutionist in benefit concerts and liedertafel nights. His various talents combined with his knowledge of Sydney’s history, his amusing discourse and his pleasant manner to make him very well-known about town. After he died, several papers lamented that he had not completed an account of his own life, times and acquaintances.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2015

Accession number: 2015.2

Currently not on display

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

Artist and subject

Tom Roberts (age 36 in 1892)

James Donovan (age 31 in 1892)

Subject professions

Media and communications

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.

The sisters, 1904
The sisters, 1904
The sisters, 1904
The sisters, 1904

Beguiling impressions

Magazine article by Dr Sarah Engledow, 2012

Sarah Engledow is seduced by the portraits and the connections between the artists and their subjects in the exhibition Impressions: Painting light and life.

Practising the Minuet (Miss Hilda Spong), 1893 Tom Roberts
Practising the Minuet (Miss Hilda Spong), 1893 Tom Roberts
Practising the Minuet (Miss Hilda Spong), 1893 Tom Roberts
Practising the Minuet (Miss Hilda Spong), 1893 Tom Roberts

An actress and her fans

Magazine article by Dr Sarah Engledow, 2008

Dr. Sarah Engledow discovers the amazing life of Ms. Hilda Spong, little remembered star of the stage, who was captured in a portrait by Tom Roberts.

Sir Macfarlane Burnet, 1960-61 William Dargie
Sir Macfarlane Burnet, 1960-61 William Dargie
Sir Macfarlane Burnet, 1960-61 William Dargie
Sir Macfarlane Burnet, 1960-61 William Dargie

Picture this...

Magazine article by Andrew Sayers AM, 2003

This edited version of a speech by Andrew Sayers examines some of the antecedents of the National Portrait Gallery and set out the ideas behind the modern Gallery and its collection.

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.