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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.

Sidney Nolan and Patrick White, Adelaide Arts Festival, c. 1964 (printed 2015)

Robert McFarlane

inkjet print on paper (sheet: 33.0 cm x 41.3 cm, image: 22.0 cm x 33.0 cm)

Patrick White (1912–1990), acknowledged as Australia’s pre-eminent novelist of the 20th century, was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1973 for The Eye of the Storm, ‘for an epic and psychological narrative art which has introduced a new continent into literature’. He established the Patrick White Award, an annual literary prize, with his Nobel Prize funds.

White was born in London to a family of Hunter River graziers and spent his youth between England and Australia, at one point returning from study abroad to work as a jackaroo. At Kings College Cambridge he studied French and German languages and literature; the experience of the Australian landscape and European literature and thought were to become major sources of influence in White’s writing.

After a spell as an intelligence officer in North Africa during the Second World War, he returned to Australian with his partner, Manoly Lascaris. The two men were partners for fifty years, while White’s friendships with many others were turbulent and often cruelly curtailed.

White’s novels include The Aunt’s Story, The Tree of Man, Voss, Riders in the Chariot, The Vivisector, The Eye of the Storm and The Twyborn Affair. During the 1970s, becoming increasingly depressed at Australians’ complacency and superficiality, White spoke out on various political issues. David Marr’s superb biography of White was published in 1991. In 2012, the centenary of White’s birth was celebrated with a new publication of his first novel Happy Valley and the publication of an unfinished work, Hanging Garden.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 1999
© Robert McFarlane/Copyright Agency, 2020

Accession number: 2015.99

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Robert McFarlane (age 22 in 1964)

Sidney Nolan (age 47 in 1964)

Patrick White (age 52 in 1964)

Subject professions

Visual arts and crafts

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.

Patrick White at Centennial Park, 1979–1980
Patrick White at Centennial Park, 1979–1980
Patrick White at Centennial Park, 1979–1980
Patrick White at Centennial Park, 1979–1980

Listomania

Magazine article by Dr Sarah Engledow, 2013

Sarah Engledow describes the fall-out once Brett Whiteley stuck Patrick White’s list of his loves and hates onto his great portrait of the writer.

Interview with William Yang video: 2 minutes
Interview with William Yang video: 2 minutes
Interview with William Yang video: 2 minutes
Interview with William Yang video: 2 minutes

Patrick White by William Yang

Portrait story

An interview with photographer William Yang who recalls his encounters with the author Patrick White.

Artist and wife near Arthurs Seat, 1969
Artist and wife near Arthurs Seat, 1969
Artist and wife near Arthurs Seat, 1969
Artist and wife near Arthurs Seat, 1969

Through blue eyes

Magazine article by Dr Sarah Engledow, 2009

Works by Arthur Boyd and Sidney Nolan bring the desert, the misty seashore and the hot Monaro plains to exhibition Open Air: Portraits in the landscape.

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

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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.