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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.

Study for a portrait of Dame Merlyn Myer DBE

1960s
Sir William Dargie CBE

oil on masonite (frame: 63.0 cm x 54.5 cm, support: 49.0 cm x 40.2 cm)

Dame Merlyn Myer DBE (1900–1982), philanthropist and fundraiser, met store-owner Sidney Myer in Melbourne in 1916. Eighteen years her senior, he had opened a sophisticated American-style department store, the Myer Emporium, on Bourke Street in 1911. They married in 1920 and moved between California and Melbourne, before setting up house in Toorak in 1929. After Sidney died in 1934, Merlyn plunged herself into the Myer Emporium and charitable work, administering the Sidney Myer Charitable Trust. For more than four decades she was a board member of the Royal Melbourne Hospital, engaging closely with patients and staff as well as fundraising and making big donations herself. She also remained passionate about the Myer retail business and took a practical interest in the welfare of the store’s employees. From 1942 she often retreated to her sheep and cattle property Booroola, but she remained a byword in Melbourne for elegance and generosity.

A prolific and high-profile portraitist, Sir William Dargie painted this study for a portrait of Dame Merlyn that is still in the Myer family. Like many of Dargie's works, this painting demonstrates his commitment to realism and conveys a sense of having caught a significant moment in paint. Dame Merlyn's serene expression is emphasised by the use of light falling across her face.

Gift of the Estate of Marion Orme Page 2016
© Roger Dargie and Faye Dargie

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

Sir William Dargie CBE (age 48 in 1960)

Dame Margery Merlyn Baillieu Myer DBE (age 60 in 1960)

Donated by

Trustees of the Estate of Marion Orme Page (2 portraits)

Related information

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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.

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Magazine article by Magda Keaney, 2003

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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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