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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.

Margaret Robertson

c. 1863
Batchelder & O'Neill

albumen paper carte de visite (support: 9.9 cm x 6.4 cm, image: 9.2 cm x 5.7 cm)

Margaret Robertson (née Whyte, 1811–1866) married colonial Tasmanian businessman and landowner William Robertson in Hobart in September 1834. Like Robertson she was of Scottish origin, her parents George and Jessie Whyte arriving in Van Diemen’s Land as free settlers in 1832. The Whytes settled near Melton Mowbray, where William Robertson and his brother John also had land. After their marriage William and Margaret resided in Hobart, where their seven children were born and where William ran a successful business as an importer and trader in silverware, crockery and other household wares. At the same time, he was becoming increasingly involved in the expansion of pastoral activities in the Western Districts of Victoria, having been among the investors who funded John Batman’s explorations of Port Phillip in 1835. By the late 1840s he had amassed considerable Victorian holdings, enabling him to retire from his Hobart business in 1852. In the early 1860s he and Margaret relocated permanently to his property near Colac, Corangamarah, later known as The Hill.

The Melbourne studio Batchelder & O’Neill was a partnership between the Boston-born brothers Perez, Freeman, Benjamin and Nathaniel Batchelder and Daniel O’Neill, who is believed also to have been a Massachusetts native. All of them arrived in Victoria in the 1850s. Perez Mann Batchelder had worked as an itinerant daguerreotypist on the Californian goldfields in the early 1850s. Benjamin had worked with him there for some time. By 1854 Perez was in Melbourne; he opened a studio at 57 Collins Street and was joined by Benjamin and the remaining two brothers in February 1856. Benjamin and Nathaniel started a branch of the firm in Sydney, but this closed when Nathaniel died in 1860. Benjamin thereafter worked in Bendigo. Meanwhile, the Melbourne side of the business had been operating as Batchelder & O’Neill since 1857, initially trading as ‘Batchelder & O’Neill’s Daguerreotype and Collodion Portrait Rooms’ but subsequently becoming known for their cartes de visite. In 1863, for instance, it was noted that ‘Messrs Batchelder and O’Neill, the well-known photographers, of Melbourne,’ had produced cartes of Sir Charles Darling, the incoming governor. ‘As specimens of photographic art the portraits are very creditable’ it was reported, ‘and we have no doubt they are very good portraits.’

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of Malcolm Robertson in memory of William Thomas Robertson 2018
Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program

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.

Artist and subject

Batchelder & O'Neill

Margaret Robertson (age 52 in 1863)

Donated by

Malcolm Robertson (16 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.

Miss Robertson of Colac (Dolly), 1885-86
Miss Robertson of Colac (Dolly), 1885-86
Miss Robertson of Colac (Dolly), 1885-86
Miss Robertson of Colac (Dolly), 1885-86

Brothers on farms

Magazine article by Malcolm Robertson, 2011

Malcolm Robertson tells the family history of one of Australia's earliest patrons of the arts, his Scottish born great great great grandfather, William Robertson.

Lady Barkly
Lady Barkly
Lady Barkly
Lady Barkly

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.

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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.

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