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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.

Portrait of Charles Blackman

1979
Judy Cassab AO CBE

oil on canvas (support: 116.8 cm x 126.5 cm, frame: 130.6 cm x 138 cm depth 3 cm, sight: 112 cm x 120 cm)

By the end of the 1970s, Charles Blackman OBE's (1928–2018) status as a premier Australian artist was well and truly cemented. Best known for his signature series of images, incorporating schoolgirls with flowers and Alice in Wonderland figures and motifs, he exhibited prolifically throughout his career. Judy Cassab AO CBE painted this portrait of her friend in 1979, two years after he was awarded an OBE. Captured at the height of his career, Blackman is depicted as a confident and successful artist, comfortable in his surroundings, and portrayed through the artist's signature expressionist style. Shortlisted for the 1979 Archibald Prize, the painting shows Blackman in his then eponymous beret, seated before a large, leaning painting of a reclining, draped nude. At this time, the artist was working on a 'nightmare' series, inspired by Henry Fuseli's 1781 influential work; one of these paintings – with a very similar composition to that shown in Cassab's portrait – had just been acquired by the Art Gallery of New South Wales in 1978. One of Australia's best-loved, most successful and prolific portrait painters, Cassab was an Archibald finalist 41 times. The Portrait Gallery currently holds sixteen portraits of notable Australians by Cassab, and four portraits of the artist – including one self-portrait.

Gift of Warwick Evans 2021. Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program.
© Judy Cassab/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

Judy Cassab AO CBE (age 59 in 1979)

Charles Blackman OBE (age 51 in 1979)

Subject professions

Visual arts and crafts

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.

Self-portrait, 1962 by Judy Cassab
Self-portrait, 1962 by Judy Cassab
Self-portrait, 1962 by Judy Cassab
Self-portrait, 1962 by Judy Cassab

Flesh, figure and rock

Magazine article by Aimee Board, 2018

Aimee Board traces Judy Cassab’s path to the Australian outback, arriving at the junction of inspiration and abstraction.

The family
The family
The family
The family

Big bouquet of Blackmans

Magazine article by Dr Sarah Engledow, 2013

Dr. Sarah Engledow explores the context surrounding Charles Blackman's portrait of Judith Wright, Jack McKinney and their daughter Meredith.

© National Portrait Gallery 2021
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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