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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.

Self portrait

1964
Arthur Boyd AC OBE

oil on canvas (support: 76.5 cm x 66.5 cm)

Arthur Boyd AC OBE (1920–1999), painter, potter and printmaker, was one of Australia's greatest artists. From an artistic family, he began making paintings as a boy and developed a vigorous and expressive style. Although better known for his landscapes and mythical subjects, Boyd made a number of paintings of family and friends, and several self portraits. This one was painted in 1964 when Boyd was living in England. Aged 44, he had just finished a productive period working on set and costume designs for the Royal Ballet production of Elektra. Unlike much of Boyd's portraiture in which heads emerge out of a dark background, this self-portrait is painted on a simple white background using a neutral palette. Similar to his earliest self portrait, painted when he was seventeen, his penetrating eyes gaze off into the distance, but this time he looks apprehensive rather than determined, perhaps in response to his sadness following the death of his parents earlier in the decade. Returning to Australia in the early 1970s, Boyd bought a property on the Shoalhaven River on the south coast of New South Wales, Bundanon, which he subsequently gave to the Australian people. In 1975 he made an immense gift of his own work to the National Gallery of Australia.

Gift of Denis Savill 2021. Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program.
© Bundanon Trust

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

Arthur Boyd AC OBE (age 44 in 1964)

Subject professions

Visual arts and crafts

Related information

The Companion

Permanent collection catalogue

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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.

Self Portrait in red shirt, 1937 by Arthur Boyd
Self Portrait in red shirt, 1937 by Arthur Boyd
Self Portrait in red shirt, 1937 by Arthur Boyd
Self Portrait in red shirt, 1937 by Arthur Boyd

Arthur as Alyosha?

Magazine article by Patrick McCaughey, 2015

Patrick McCaughey explores a striking Boyd self portrait.

Artist and wife near Arthurs Seat, 1969
Artist and wife near Arthurs Seat, 1969
Artist and wife near Arthurs Seat, 1969
Artist and wife near Arthurs Seat, 1969

Through blue eyes

Magazine article by Dr Sarah Engledow, 2009

Works by Arthur Boyd and Sidney Nolan bring the desert, the misty seashore and the hot Monaro plains to exhibition Open Air: Portraits in the landscape.

© 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