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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.

William Robertson junior

c. 1857
Conway Hart (attributed)

oil on canvas (frame: 69.0 cm x 54.6 cm, support: 58.5 cm x 43.0 cm)

William Robertson (1839–1892), lawyer, landowner and politician, was born in Hobart and educated there and at Wadham College, Oxford. His father, William Robertson senior, had emigrated to Van Diemen’s Land in 1824 and in the mid-1830s invested in a scheme to expand pastoral activities to Port Phillip. William senior eventually moved his family to an estate near Colac, building it into one of Victoria’s leading cattle studs. William junior inherited the Colac property, called The Hill, on his father’s death in 1874; two years later he retired as a barrister and with this three brothers focussed on the management of the family properties. He was a member of the Victorian Legislative Assembly in the 1870s and 1880s, although it was said that he was ‘much better fitted to shine in social life, being a man of amiable disposition and high private character.’

Conway Hart arrived in Melbourne in 1850 and worked there and in Geelong before relocating to Hobart in early 1855. An August 1856 review of his Liverpool Street ‘Portrait Gallery’ stated that ‘the portraits issuing from this studio excel anything witnessed before in this colony.’ Hart returned to Victoria in 1857. He exhibited in the Victorian Fine Arts Society’s inaugural exhibition that year, but by 1860 was making plans to leave the colonies altogether.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2017

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

Conway Hart (age 43 in 1857)

William Robertson Jnr (age 18 in 1857)

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.

Miss Robertson of Colac (Dolly), 1885-86
Miss Robertson of Colac (Dolly), 1885-86
Miss Robertson of Colac (Dolly), 1885-86
Miss Robertson of Colac (Dolly), 1885-86

Brothers on farms

Magazine article by Malcolm Robertson, 2011

Malcolm Robertson tells the family history of one of Australia's earliest patrons of the arts, his Scottish born great great great grandfather, William Robertson.

Self portrait
Self portrait
Self portrait
Self portrait

Elegance in exile

Portrait drawings from colonial Australia

Previous exhibition, 2012

Elegance in exile is an exhibition surveying the work of Richard Read senior, Thomas Bock, Thomas Griffiths Wainewright and Charles Rodius: four artists who, though exiled to Australia as convicts, created many of the most significant and elegant portraits of the colonial period.

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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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