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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.

James Macpherson Grant, c. 1870s

Paterson Brothers

carte de visite photograph (support: 10.5 cm x 6.3 cm, image: 9.2 cm x 6.0 cm)

More images of this artwork

James Macpherson Grant (1822–1885) was fourteen years old when his family emigrated to New South Wales from Scotland. In Sydney he was articled to a law firm in which he eventually became a partner, but in 1850 he left for California with a shipload of goods for sale. After returning to Australia he headed to the Bendigo diggings for a time before settling in Melbourne and returning to the law. Known for his radical views, in December 1854 Grant addressed a public meeting in Melbourne in support of the Eureka rebels, expressing his belief that they had ‘been goaded into rebellion by the stupid action of the Government of the day.’ He later successfully defended the miners, for no fee, against charges of sedition. In 1855 he entered Parliament as the member for Sandhurst (Bendigo) on the Legislative Council before being elected to the Legislative Assembly on the advent of responsible government the following year. Grant’s occasional hot-headedness and ferocity and his reputation as a hard drinker meant that his legal practice suffered, but his political fortunes were bolstered by his agitation on matters such as land ownership. As President of the Board of Lands and Works and Commissioner of Crown Lands and Survey from 1864 to 1870, Grant succeeded in passing a land act which enabled small-time selectors to take up 20-acre holdings at two shillings per acre. A second land bill allowed the selection of up to 320 acres conditional upon cultivating and improving the land, with the option of converting to freehold. Returning to the Legislative Assembly in 1871, Grant twice served as Minister for Justice and was Chief Secretary and Minister for Public Instruction between 1881 and 1883.

The Paterson brothers William and Archibald began working as photographers in Melbourne in the 1850s. In March and April 1858 they offered for sale ‘an excellent portable PHOTOGRAPH GLASS-HOUSE, with operating, waiting, and finishing rooms’, and by August of that year were notifying customers that they had relocated from Swanston Street to their ‘City Portrait Rooms’ at 141 Bourke Street east. During the 1860s their operations expanded to include studios in North Melbourne, Carlton, Fitzroy as well as Collins Street in the city and a second Bourke Street premises (No. 8). This was the address given for the firm in 1866 when a selection of their ‘Portraits, plain and coloured’ were included in the fine arts section of the Melbourne Intercolonial Exhibition.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of John McPhee 2018

Accession number: 2018.144

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Paterson Brothers

Hon. James M. Grant (age 48 in 1870)

Donated by

John McPhee (4 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.

Lady Barkly, 1863 Batchelder & O'Neill
Lady Barkly, 1863 Batchelder & O'Neill
Lady Barkly, 1863 Batchelder & O'Neill
Lady Barkly, 1863 Batchelder & O'Neill

Carte-o-mania!

Previous exhibition, 2018

Drawn from the NPG’s burgeoning collection of cartes de visite, Carte-o-mania! celebrates the wit, style and substance of the pocket-sized portraits that were taken and collected like crazy in post-goldrush Australia.

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.