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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.

Sir John McEwen

n.d.
Louis Kahan

fibre-tipped pen on paper (sheet: 56.0 cm x 38.2 cm)

Sir John (‘Black Jack’) McEwen CH GCMG PC (1900-1980) was leader of the Australian Country Party and deputy prime minister from 1958 to 1971. He took up a land grant after war service and built up a productive holding in Victoria. He joined the Country Party at 19, and became minister for the interior in 1937, a portfolio with many and varied responsibilities including immigration, Aborigines, mining, oil exploration and railways. After serving on the Advisory War Council he had a continuous run of 21 years as a minister during which he secured trade agreements with Britain and negotiated the Agreement on Commerce with Japan (in 1973, he was appointed to the Order of the Rising Sun). He was an articulate proponent of protectionism, to the extent that it was known as ‘McEwenism’. During Menzies’s prime ministership McEwen acted as prime minister ten times, and after Harold Holt’s death in late 1967 he was appointed caretaker prime minister. McEwen retired from politics in early 1971; in 1975, he sold his beloved farm to spend his last years in Toorak.

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.

Subject professions

Government and leadership

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
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Magazine article by Dr Sarah Engledow, 2018

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

Bob Hawke
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Previous exhibition, 2019

Seventeen of Australia’s thirty prime ministers to date are represented in the contrasting sizes, moods and mediums of these portraits.

© National Portrait Gallery 2021
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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.

The National Portrait Gallery is an Australian Government Agency