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Harold Holt

Louis Kahan

graphite on paper (sheet: 55.2 cm x 38.0 cm)

Louis Kahan was born in Russia to Jewish parents, and grew up in Vienna, where he trained as a tailor. At 20 he went to Paris, where he worked for the couturier Paul Poiret as a tailor and a designer. In 1939, he enlisted in the Foreign Legion; with the American Red Cross in North Africa, he made thousands of rather glamorous portraits of wounded servicemen. In Paris again, he was an illustrator for Le Figaro, but in 1947 he came to Australia, settling in Melbourne. Soon after, the editor of Meanjin asked him to make a series of pen and ink portraits of writers for the journal. Over the next fifty years his portrait drawings were hung in many Melbourne homes. He won the Archibald Prize in 1962 with a startling painting of Patrick White. Melbourne’s Jewish Museum held a multifarious Kahan retrospective in 1997.

Harold Holt CH was Australia’s 17th prime minister, from January 1966 to December 1967, when he disappeared off the coast of Victoria. John McEwen GCMG CH was caretaker prime minister until 10 January 1968.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of Mrs Lily Kahan 2017
Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program

Accession number: 2017.74

Currently on display: Gallery One (Marilyn Darling Gallery)

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Subject professions

Government and leadership

Donated by

Lily Kahan (52 portraits)

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