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Edmund Capon
, c.1986 (printed 2019)

by Neil Duncan

gelatin silver photograph (sheet: 50.5 cm x 40.5 cm, image: 27.0 cm x 41.0 cm, frame: depth 4.2 cm)

Edmund Capon AM OBE (1940–2019), gallery director, began his career at London’s Victorian and Albert Museum in 1966. Having completed an MPhil in Chinese art and archaeology (including language), he was appointed assistant keeper in the Far Eastern Section in 1973. Acknowledged as a specialist in his field, he made three visits to China between 1974 and 1978, during the first seeing the initial excavations revealing the ‘entombed warriors’ in Xian. In 1976 the Australia Council and Art Exhibitions Australia commissioned him to write Art and Archaeology in China to accompany the touring show The Chinese Exhibition: a selection of recent archaeological finds of the People’s Republic of China (1977). In 1978 he became the first internationally trained art historian and curator to be appointed director of the Art Gallery of NSW. He held the position for 33 years, continuing to research, write and publish while overseeing significant building expansion, establishing a corporate foundation to fund purchases, steering collection development and curating many important exhibitions. The Entombed Warriors (1983) broke all records, nationally, by recording over 800 000 paying attendees. Along with Australian and British honours, he gained French and Italian awards for his contribution to art and culture. He was made an honorary Doctor of Letters of the University of New South Wales in 2000.

Neil Duncan worked on assignment for publications including the Australian, the Sun and the London Times before changing his focus to commissions for industrial and corporate clients such as Brambles, Transfield, Elders and Sydney City Ferries. His many images of Sydney include a definitive series on the defunct Colgate Palmolive factory, Balmain.
Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased 2019
Accession number: 2019.20