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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.

Portrait of Brenda Niall

1997
Judy Cassab AO CBE

oil on canvas laid on composition board (frame: 81.5 cm x 65.5 cm, support: 76.7 cm x 61.0 cm)

Brenda Niall AO (b. 1930) is one of Australia's foremost biographers. In 1974 she published Martin Boyd, a biography of the writer born into the Boyd family of artists; it was republished four times. Her subsequent writings on the family include The Boyds: A Family Biography (2002), which won the Queensland Premier's and Victorian Premier's Literary Awards; Martin Boyd: A life (2004), which won the National Book Council Award; and Brenda Niall on Arthur Boyd (2005). Her biography Georgiana: A Biography of Georgiana McCrae (1994) won the Victorian Premier's Award; and Mannix (2015) won the Australian Literature Society Gold Medal and the National Biography Award.

In her 2005 biography of renowned portrait artist Judy Cassab, Niall recalled her sittings for this 1997 portrait at the artist's Sydney home. 'I was put at ease by conversation and coffee, beguiled by the artist's interest in my life story … We had talked about what I should wear … We settled on deep blue but when the portrait was complete the blue was there only as underpainting, showing here and there through silvery and pale gold tones. "The blue didn't want to stay," she said … I see those choices now as rather like a biographer's tone and attitude.'

Gift of Dr Brenda Niall AO 2019. Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program.
© Judy Cassab/Copyright Agency, 2022

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

Judy Cassab AO CBE (age 77 in 1997)

Dr Brenda Niall AO (age 67 in 1997)

Donated by

Dr Brenda Niall AO (1 portrait)

© National Portrait Gallery 2022
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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