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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 Sydney, his parents encouraged his love of music. He learned the cello, graduating from the Conservatorium of Music, and then moved to London. On return to Australia he launched his eponymous fashion line in 1975. His contribution to arts philanthropy was significant, supporting the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Sydney Opera House and the Art Gallery of New South Wales, among many other organisations. 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. After being diagnosed with lung cancer in 2018, he donated four million dollars to the Westmead Institute for Medical Research.

Kerrie Lester's portrait shows a pensive Weiss with rehearsing members of the Australian Chamber Orchestra, including violinist Richard Tognetti in the black cap. Lester later recalled the sitting for the portrait: 'I went out to Kings Cross where they were rehearsing. Peter was lying on the stairs watching and listening to them. It was a massive portrait of thirteen people and a lot of work to do the stitching.'

Gift of Peter Weiss AO 2018. Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program.
© Wendy Sharpe/Copyright Agency, 2021

Artist and subject

Kerrie Lester (age 42 in 1995)

Peter Weiss AO (age 60 in 1995)

Donated by

Peter Weiss AO (1 portrait)

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.

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.

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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.

The National Portrait Gallery is an Australian Government Agency