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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 Gallery’s Acknowledgement of Country, and information on culturally sensitive and restricted content and the use of historic language in the collection can be found here.

Album of cartes de visite and cabinet cards compiled by William St Leonards Robertson

1860s-c. 1900
Various

24 page brown leather bound album of 119 cartes de visite and 16 cabinet card photographs (closed: 29.5 cm x 22.5 cm depth 5.3 cm)
Image not available

William Robertson (1798-1874), pastoralist and entrepreneur, was a key player in the settlement of Victoria in the 1830s. A farmer's son, Robertson came to Van Diemen's Land in 1824 and took up land and cattle runs in the midlands before establishing a business in Hobart. By 1835, he and his brother, John, had amassed sufficient capital to join a number of other investors, including Joseph Gellibrand and John Batman, in a scheme to expand pastoral activities into the unclaimed districts along the northern shores of Bass Strait. They helped finance Batman's exploratory trip to Port Phillip in 1835, during the course of which he made a 'treaty' with the Aboriginal people that he later used as the basis for a 600,000 acre land claim on behalf of the syndicate - the Port Phillip Association. Robertson travelled to Port Phillip in 1836 and 1837 to select his share of the land, his holdings by the late 1840s concentrated in the area around Colac. Robertson stocked his properties with 'the best bulls and cows that could be got in the colonies' as well as making return journeys to Britain to select livestock for export. He oversaw the operation of his pastoral empire from his home, Melrose, in Battery Point, until retiring from his Hobart business in 1852. He settled permanently at his Colac property, Corangamarah, in the early 1860s. His obituary described him as a 'founder' of Victoria's fortunes: 'He took an important part in its early struggles for existence, and never ceased his exertions in it until by his acumen, energy, and perseverance, his lands became a vast possession and himself a millionaire.'

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

Various

William St.Leonards Robertson

William Robertson (age 62 in 1860)

Margaret Robertson (age 49 in 1860)

William Robertson Jnr (age 21 in 1860)

Martha M. Robertson (age 16 in 1860)

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.

Self portrait
Self portrait
Self portrait
Self portrait

Elegance in exile

Portrait drawings from colonial Australia

Previous exhibition, 2012

Elegance in exile is an exhibition surveying the work of Richard Read senior, Thomas Bock, Thomas Griffiths Wainewright and Charles Rodius: four artists who, though exiled to Australia as convicts, created many of the most significant and elegant portraits of the colonial period.

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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.

The National Portrait Gallery is an Australian Government Agency