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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.

Bernard Leser, 1986

Judy Cassab

oil on canvas (frame: 106.5 cm x 91.0 cm depth 5.0 cm, support: 93.0 cm x 77.0 cm)

On loan to the National Portrait Gallery

Image not available (L)

Berndt ‘Bernie’ Leser (1925-2015), publisher, was the son of a German Jewish knitwear manufacturer. Raised in Sondershausen, in 1939 he fled Germany with family, ending up in New Zealand, where he left school at 15. Studying business at night school, he gained work as a shoe and clothing salesman. At 22 he moved to Australia, marrying the concert pianist Barbara Davis; in the 1950s he travelled internationally as a product marketer. While working in London, he was approached about starting an Australian edition of the Condé Nast magazine, Vogue. Australian Vogue launched in 1959; a local Vogue Living was introduced in 1967. Leser’s antipodean success was such that by 1976 he was made the company’s managing director in Britain, where he introduced The World of Interiors and Tatler (with the legendary Tina Brown as editor). In 1979 he introduced German Vogue. Seven years later he was made president of Condé Nast in the USA, introducing Condé Nast Traveler and Allure. Remembered for his genial, personal and considerate approach to business – it seemed, said one chairman and chief executive of Condé Nast International, that he ‘knew everyone and they knew him and they loved him’ - from 1994 he lived in retirement in his beloved Sydney.

Judy Cassab kept diaries from the age of twelve. She recalled ‘When I turned 70, my friends Bernie and Barbara Leser invited us for dinner. Bernie asked: “Judy, when are you going to do something about your diaries?” “When I am old,” I answered aggressively. A few minutes later I realised - I am old! Bernie started the ball rolling.’

Courtesy of Mrs Barbara Leser

Accession number: LOAN2019.4

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Judy Cassab (age 66 in 1986)

Mr Bernard Leser (age 61 in 1986)

Subject professions

Media and communications

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.

Sir Frank Packer KBE, 1956 Judy Cassab
Sir Frank Packer KBE, 1956 Judy Cassab
Sir Frank Packer KBE, 1956 Judy Cassab
Sir Frank Packer KBE, 1956 Judy Cassab

Vintage Cassab

Magazine article by Dr Sarah Engledow, 2006

The oil portrait of Sir Frank Packer KBE by Judy Cassab was gifted to the National Portrait Gallery in 2006.

Sir Frank Packer KBE, 1956 Judy Cassab
Sir Frank Packer KBE, 1956 Judy Cassab
Sir Frank Packer KBE, 1956 Judy Cassab
Sir Frank Packer KBE, 1956 Judy Cassab

Judy Cassab

The artist's diary

Previous exhibition, 2013

The artist's diary profiles six decades of Cassab's work, from the early portrait commissions of the 1950s to later paintings that have helped confirm her eminent place in the canon of Australian portraiture.

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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.