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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.

A man and his music: Peter Weiss and the Australian Chamber Orchestra, 1995

Kerrie Lester

oil and hand-stitching on canvas (frame: 200.0 cm x 276.5 cm, support: 183.0 cm x 259.0 cm)

Peter Weiss AO (1935-2020) cultural benefactor, was born into a well-to-do family in Vienna, which they fled in the late 1930s. In cramped quarters in Sydney, his mother baked cakes and stitched delicate garments while his father went to work for an apron manufacturer. Meanwhile, the couple took care to expose the young Weiss to what culture there was in the city. He learned the cello, graduating from the Conservatorium. Having moved to London to further his studies, he gave up the instrument. On return to Sydney he worked his way into business, becoming a prominant and sucessful garment manufacturer. Through the 1990s he sponsored concerts at St James’s Church in Sydney. He was one of the early sponsors of a ‘chair’ in the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and the founding president of the Maestro Circle in 2009. His gift of one million dollars established the Instrument Fund of the Australian Chamber Orchestra; in 2016, he bought a 1729 Guarneri cello for the company. He purchased Peter Sculthorpe’s house from the composer’s estate and hosted music events in its studio. Weiss made very significant donations to the Opera House. Weiss was among the first members of the Art Gallery of New South Wales Foundation when it was established in 1983, and was made a life governor of the gallery in 2009.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of Peter Weiss AO 2018
Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program
© Wendy Sharpe/Copyright Agency, 2020

Accession number: 2018.139

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Kerrie Lester (age 42 in 1995)

Peter Weiss AO (age 60 in 1995)

Related information

The Companion

Permanent collection catalogue

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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.

Miranda Otto, 1997 Montalbetti & Campbell
Miranda Otto, 1997 Montalbetti & Campbell
Miranda Otto, 1997 Montalbetti & Campbell
Miranda Otto, 1997 Montalbetti & Campbell

Eye to eye

Previous exhibition, 2019

Eye to Eye is a summer Portrait Gallery Collection remix arranged by degree of eye contact – from turned away with eyes closed all the way through to right-back-at-you – as we explore artists’ and subjects’ choices around the direction of the gaze.

The National Portrait Gallery
The National Portrait Gallery
The National Portrait Gallery

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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.