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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.

A Commissioner of Customs "Faithful to Francis" [The Hon. Edward Cohen M.L.A.] from the series "Masks and Faces", 1874

Tom Durkin and The Weekly Times (publisher)

lithograph on paper (sheet: 33.6 cm x 20.8 cm)

Edward Aaron Cohen (1822–1877), merchant, politician and community leader, came to Australia with his mother and nine siblings in 1833, his father, Henry, having been transported to New South Wales that year. After receiving a conditional pardon, Henry Cohen opened a grocer’s store in Sydney, H Cohen & Son, which Edward later managed. Moving to Victoria, Edward worked in auctioneering for some years before establishing his own importing business in 1864. He also branched into finance and landowning, becoming a director of the Colonial Bank of Australasia and other companies. Meanwhile, he had become active in municipal and state politics, serving as Mayor of Melbourne in 1862–63 and being elected to the Legislative Assembly in 1861 as the member for East Melbourne. Cohen was also a leading member of Melbourne’s Jewish community, campaigning for equal citizenship rights and raising funds to assist impoverished Jewish people. In March 1870, the Melbourne Hebrew Congregation (of which he had been president) presented him with a testimonial ‘in recognition of the valuable services rendered by him to the Jewish community.’ The treasurer of the Royal Melbourne Hospital for more than 20 years and a prominent advocate for the establishment of a public education system, Cohen’s death at age 54 was much lamented, a ‘vast assemblage’ turning out for his funeral in March 1877.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2016

Accession number: 2016.9

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Tom Durkin (age 21 in 1874)

The Weekly Times

Hon. Edward Cohen (age 52 in 1874)

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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.

A Goldfields Member "The Dove of Ararat" [The Hon. William McLellan M.L.A] from the series "Masks and Faces", 1874 Tom Durkin, The Weekly Times
A Goldfields Member "The Dove of Ararat" [The Hon. William McLellan M.L.A] from the series "Masks and Faces", 1874 Tom Durkin, The Weekly Times
A Goldfields Member "The Dove of Ararat" [The Hon. William McLellan M.L.A] from the series "Masks and Faces", 1874 Tom Durkin, The Weekly Times
A Goldfields Member "The Dove of Ararat" [The Hon. William McLellan M.L.A] from the series "Masks and Faces", 1874 Tom Durkin, The Weekly Times

Showing character

Magazine article by Joanna Gilmour, 2016

Joanna Gilmour on Tom Durkin playing with Melbourne's manhood.

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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.