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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.

Harry Seidler

n.d.
Louis Kahan

pencil on paper (sheet: 32.2 cm x 44.5 cm)

Harry Seidler AC OBE (1923–2006), architect and designer, was born in Vienna and studied under Walter Gropius and Marcel Breuer at the Harvard School of Design. He worked with Alvar Aalto in Massachusetts, with Breuer in his New York practice and with Oscar Niemeyer in Rio de Janeiro before travelling in Sydney in 1948 to design a house for his parents in Turramurra. Now known as the Rose Seidler House, it caused a sensation and introduced Bauhaus principles to Australia. Soon commissioned to design houses for other clients, Seidler made a significant contribution to the architecture of Sydney, particularly in his Australia Square buildings (1961–1967), the MLC Centre (1972–1978) and Grosvenor Place (1982–1988). He also designed major projects around Australia and internationally, including the critically acclaimed Australian Embassy in Paris (1973–1977) overlooking the Eiffel Tower. Among his multitudinous awards are the RAIA Gold Medal (1976) and the Royal Institute of British Architects Gold Medal (1996). He received Australia's highest honour, the Companion of the Order of Australia, in 1987.

Louis Kahan’s drawing of Seidler is part of a group of unique and arresting composite portraits of Australian public figures in the 1960s and 1970s. Kahan often drew them at home as he watched them talking on television programs like This Day Tonight.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of Mrs Lily Kahan 2017
Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program
© Louis Kahan/Copyright Agency, 2021

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

Louis Kahan

Harry Seidler AC OBE

Subject professions

Architecture, design and fashion

Donated by

Lily Kahan (52 portraits)

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.

Self portrait
Self portrait
Self portrait
Self portrait

A guy from Paris

Magazine article by Dr Sarah Engledow, 2018

Sarah Engledow on a foundational gallery figure who was quick on the draw.

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The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance
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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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