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After Jack, 2012

Jenny Sages

encaustic, oil and pigment on composition board (support: 120.0 cm x 190.0 cm)
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Jenny Sages (b. 1933), born to Russian Jewish parents in Shanghai, came to Australia with her family in 1948. After cursory art studies at East Sydney Technical College she attended Franklin School of Art, New York. Having married Jack Sages, between 1955 and 1984 she worked as a freelance illustrator and travel writer for books and fashion magazines including Vogue Australia. A specialist in the medium of encaustic, from 1985 Sages has worked full time in a studio atop her home in Double Bay; she has had regular solo exhibitions since 1988. Her portrait of Emily Kngwarrey was the first work purchased for the collection of the National Portrait Gallery in 1998. From 2010 to 2013 an expanded iteration of the National Portrait Gallery exhibition Jenny Sages: Paths to Portraiture toured to Tweed, Towoomba, Mackay, Burnie and Mosman. Sages won the Portia Geach Award in 1992 and 1994 and the Wynne Prize in 2005, and has been a finalist for the Archibald Prize twenty times (1990, 1993-2009, 2011-12). Her 2000 and 2001 Archibald Prize entries were highly commended by the Trustees; in 2012 After Jack was People’s Choice. She last entered the Prize in 2013, with a sombre portrait that was hung in the Salon des Refusés. The National Portrait Gallery has her portraits of Emily Kngwarrey, Helen Garner, Kate Grenville, Irina Baronova and the double portrait of Nancy Borlase and Laurie Short. Her exhibition Lest I forget showed at her long-term gallery, King Street Gallery on William, in late 2018.

To coincide with the National Portrait Gallery exhibition Jenny Sages: Paths to Portraiture in 2010-2011, filmmaker Catherine Hunter made a half-hour documentary of the same name that was shown alongside the exhibition (and on ABC television). At the time, Sages was completing a large portrait of her husband and soulmate, Jack Sages, for the Archibald. During the filming period Sages badly injured her right shoulder, but through dedicated, painful effort, resumed painting. Jack Sages appeared in the documentary, watching his portrait leave home for the Art Gallery of New South Wales. However, by the time Jenny Sages saw the film for the first time, in the Liangis Theatre at the National Portrait Gallery, Jack had died. When the exhibition was at Tweed Regional Gallery in 2011-2012, Sages went to see it with the couple’s daughter Tanya, and as they entered the gallery space, where the film was running, they heard Jack's voice. Tanya photographed the widowed artist as she sat weeping. Later, Sages used Tanya’s photographs as the basis for After Jack - a companion piece to the similarly scaled My Jack, which hangs in the artist's home.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2018

Accession number: 2018.120

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Jenny Sages (age 79 in 2012)

Subject professions

Visual arts and crafts

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