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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.

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Mirka by Mirka

2000
Mirka Mora

oil on canvas (support: 50.5 cm x 40.5 cm, frame: 53.7 cm x 43.7 cm depth 3.4 cm)

Mirka Mora (1928–2018), French-born artist and restaurateur, was loved as much for her contributions to contemporary art as for her generous and outrageous nature. Having narrowly escaped Auschwitz as a girl, Mora trained in drama in Paris. By 1951, when she came to Melbourne with her husband, Georges, she was committed to painting. Soon the couple became friends with the city's leading artists and collectors, and were instrumental in the re-formation of the Contemporary Art Society. Over the 1950s and 1960s they opened the European-style Mirka Café in Exhibition Street, Balzac in East Melbourne and the Tolarno in St Kilda. While Georges established himself as an art dealer, opening Tolarno Galleries in 1967, Mirka became a bohemian icon of the city. She worked prolifically for six decades across a range of media and is represented in many state and regional collections.

Painted in 2000, when she was in her early seventies, this self-portrait depicts Mora with the youthful looks for which she was known so well. Despite this, there is a sense of age and quiet to the portrait; the palette of subdued earth tones, and the treatment of the eyes particularly, give the sense that Mora approached this work from a point of introspection. Created in the year she left her beloved little cottage in St Kilda and moved into a new flat her son William built for her at his gallery in Richmond, this work may acknowledge unsurprising feelings of sadness, time passing and the end of an era.

Purchased with funds provided by The Sid and Fiona Myer Family Foundation 2021
© Mirka Mora/Copyright Agency, 2021

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

Mirka Mora (age 72 in 2000)

Related information

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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.

Mirka Mora
Mirka Mora
Mirka Mora
Mirka Mora

It's a Mora!

Magazine article by Tedi Bills, 2016

Select extracts from Mirka Mora's autobiography, Wicked but Virtuous, provide rich accompaniment to recent Gallery acquisitions.  

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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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