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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.

William St Leonards Robertson and the Oxford boat race crew

early 1880s
Hills & Saunders

carte de visite photograph (support: 10.2 cm x 6.2 cm, image: 8.5 cm x 6.0 cm)

William St Leonards Robertson (1864–1950) (second row, at right) was the eldest child of lawyer and pastoralist William Robertson (1839–1892) and his wife Martha Mary Robertson (née Murphy, 1844–1909). He was educated at Melbourne Grammar and then, like his father, at Wadham College, Oxford. Also like his father, he took a keen interest in rowing and rowed for Oxford in the Boat Races in the 1880s. His engagement to Hilda Cumming, the daughter of a Victorian pastoralist, was announced while he was serving with the 4th battalion of the Australian Commonwealth Horse in the Boer War. Robertson was promoted to captain with the Victoria Mounted Rifles in 1903 and went on to make a career of the military, serving as the Director of Remounts for the Australian army during World War 1. He was appointed OBE in 1920, CBE in 1927, and in 1924 was appointed to the French Ordre du Mérite Agricole. He held the position of Master of Horse for the tour of the Duke and Duchess of York (later George VI and Queen Elizabeth) in 1927. He retired from military service in 1929 and thereafter lived in Melbourne, where he died in August 1950.

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

Artist and subject

Hills & Saunders

William St.Leonards Robertson (age 16 in 1880)

Donated by

Malcolm Robertson (16 portraits)

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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