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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 great South Sea caterpillar transformed into a Bath Butterfly (Sir Joseph Banks)

The Bath Butterfly

About Face article

The caricaturist and engraver James Gillray's biting satires about Sir Joseph Banks. 

Sydney Cove medallion, 1789 by Josiah Wedgwood

The medallion

About Face article

In recent years I have become fascinated by the so-called Sydney Cove Medallion (1789), a work of art that bridges the 10,000-mile gap between the newly established penal settlement at Port Jackson and the beating heart of Enlightenment England.

Angus Trumble with Portrait of Sir Joseph Banks by Thomas Phillips

Banksia and grevillea

About Face article

Portraits can render honour to remarkable men and women, but there are other ways.

Professor Mandyam Srinivasan

Brains trust

About Face article

Eminent doctors and scientists have for more than a century consistently caused our nation to punch far above her weight.

Gough Whitlam

Prime Ministers

About Face article

On the day before the Hon. E. G. Whitlam, AC, QC, died last month, at the great age of 98, there were seven former prime ministers of Australia still living, plus the incumbent Mr. Abbott – eight in all.

Death mask of George Melville courtesy of National Trust of Australia (Victoria), Old Melbourne Gaol Collection

A colourful story from Sideshow Alley

Infamy, the macabre & the portrait
About Face article

From infamous bushranger to oyster shop display, curator Jo Gilmour explores the life of George Melville.

Lustre, held by a Groom, ca. 1762 by George Stubbs

Stubbs and the horse

About Face article

One of the chief aims of George Stubbs, 1724–1806, the late Judy Egerton’s great 198485 exhibition at the Tate Gallery was to provide an eloquent rebuttal to Josiah Wedgwood’s famous remark of 1780: “Noboby suspects Mr Stubs [sic] of painting anything but horses & lions, or dogs & tigers.”

Forest Creek, Mount Alexander Diggings, 1852 by S. T. Gill

The Rothschilds, the Montefiores, and the Victorian Gold Rush

About Face article

Some years ago my colleague Andrea Wolk Rager and I spent several days in the darkened basement of a Rothschild Bank, inspecting every one of the nearly 700 autochromes created immediately before World War I by the youthful Lionel de Rothschild.

Mexico from the Palace painted by ‘Maximilian Emperor'

Empirical art

About Face article

Several years ago I came across this curious painting on the racks in a distant, dusty corner of the store room in the basement of the Johannesburg Art Gallery in South Africa. Since then the mystery surrounding it has never been far from my mind. 

Cover, first minute book of the Tasmanian Society of Natural History

Embrace your inner nerd

About Face article

The southern winter has arrived. For people in the northern hemisphere (the majority of humanity) the idea of snow and ice, freezing mist and fog in June, potentially continuing through to August and beyond, encapsulates the topsy-turvidom of our southern continent.

Sunset in the drawing room at Chesney Wold by Hablot Knight Brown

Portraiture in a Bleak House

About Face article

It may seem an odd thing to do at one’s leisure on a beautiful tropical island, but I spent much of my midwinter break a few weeks ago re-reading Bleak House.

Christmas Island

About Face article

This is my last Trumbology before, in a little more than a week from now, I pass to my successor Karen Quinlan the precious baton of the Directorship of the National Portrait Gallery.

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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