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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 Billy Book, 1918

David Low

book

Sir David Low, caricaturist, began cartooning in his native New Zealand. While working for the Canterbury Times, he began sending examples of his work to a score of Australian editors each week - a strategy which eventually landed him a job with the Melbourne office of the Bulletin. In Australia from 1911, he drew many caricatures, mainly of political figures, for The Bulletin and also contributed to the Lone Hand. The Billy Book (1918), his second published anthology of caricatures, made his name, selling 60 000 units. Its subject, Prime Minister Billy Hughes, is said to have torn the book up when given a copy by one of his ministers. The Billy Book won Low a contract with the London Star; he left Australia in 1919 and remained in England until he died, having been knighted in 1962. Upon his death he was described as the ‘dominant cartoonist of the Western world’.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of Suzie Campbell 2001

Accession number: SC17.2003

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

David Low (age 27 in 1918)

William Morris Hughes (age 56 in 1918)

Subject professions

Government and leadership

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.

Federal Statistican Knibbs, 1919 David Low
Federal Statistican Knibbs, 1919 David Low
Federal Statistican Knibbs, 1919 David Low
Federal Statistican Knibbs, 1919 David Low

The numbers man

Magazine article by Dr Sarah Engledow, 2011

Dr. Sarah Engledow tells the story of Australia's first Federal statistician, Sir George Knibbs.

Bob Hawke, 2012 Luke Cornish
Bob Hawke, 2012 Luke Cornish
Bob Hawke, 2012 Luke Cornish
Bob Hawke, 2012 Luke Cornish

Primed

Some Prime Ministers

Previous exhibition, 2019

Seventeen of Australia’s thirty prime ministers to date are represented in the contrasting sizes, moods and mediums of these portraits.

The National Portrait Gallery
The National Portrait Gallery
The National Portrait Gallery

The Gallery

Explore portraiture and come face to face with Australian identity, history, culture, creativity and diversity.

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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.