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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.

Mark Loane

An active and contemplative life

About Face article

From Cicero through St. Augustine and Coluccio Salutati right up to the present day, we have regularly weighed the significance, respective merits and competing priorities of the “active” versus the “contemplative” life. Can they coexist?

William Bligh

William Bligh

About Face article

The life of William Bligh offers up a handful of the most remarkable episodes in the history of Britain’s eighteenth and early nineteenth-century maritime empire.

Field Marshal the Lord Birdwood

Centenary of ANZAC

About Face article

Just now we pause to mark the centenary of ANZAC, the day when, together with British, other imperial and allied forces, the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps landed at Gallipoli at the start of the ill-starred Dardanelles campaign.

Lee Kernaghan near Broken Hill


About Face article

This month I turn fifty, soI am just now looking rather more closely than usual at Fiona Foley, Steven Heathcote, Brenda Croft, Russell Crowe, Jeff Fenech, Akira Isogawa, Lee Kernaghan, My Le Thi, Shona Wilson and Mark Taylor AO, mindful that they too were 1964 arrivals. 

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.

Portrait of Captain James Cook RN

Robert Oatley AO

About Face article

The National Portrait Gallery mourns the loss of one our most generous benefactors, Robert Oatley AO.

A papal pet encounter

About Face article

In honour of the launch of the Popular Pet Show, Angus recalls a diplomatic incident with an over-excited golden retriever.

On the passage and pace of time

About Face article

In shock it fluctuates and with age, accelerates. Remembering the First World War and the Easter Rising.

Photograph from Eye to I series, 2022 David Lindesay

A portrait of the artist by the artist

About Face article

Rowan McGinness asks: when is a self portrait not a self portrait?

Henry Louis Bertrand, ca. 1865 photographed by the Milligan Brothers. Collection of the State Library of NSW

A passion eating into your vitals

The ‘Mad Dentist of Wynyard Square’ in court, 18 December 1865
About Face article

The salacious and sordid details of Henry Kinder’s death transfixed Sydneysiders with a case combining murder with seduction, mesmerism, blackmail and poisoning.

Latai Taumoepeau and Justin Shoulder, 2014, printed, augmented 2023 from the series No Human Being Is Illegal (in all our glory) 2014–18 Deborah Kelly

A stitch in time: Participating in portraiture

About Face article

Author and embroidery enthusiast Emma Batchelor shares her experience of joining a sewing circle with Portrait23: Identity artist Deborah Kelly.

Little John of Colchester, a poor lunatic, c.1823 by John Dempsey

Dempsey's people

About Face article

Those of you who are active in social media circles may be aware that through the past week I have unleashed a blitz on Facebook and Instagram in connection with our new winter exhibition Dempsey’s People: A Folio of British Street Portraits, 1824−1844.

Barry Humphries

Talking heads

About Face article

In their own words lead researcher Louise Maher on the novel project that lets the Gallery’s portraits speak for themselves.

Queen Alexandra and Dowager Empress Marie Feodorovna of Russia, Hvidore, circa 1908 by Mary Steen

The cost of living luxuriously

About Face article

In 1904, the Dowager Empress Marie Feodorovna of Russia purchased as a gift for her sister, Queen Alexandra, a fan composed of two-color gold, guilloché enamel, mother-of-pearl, blond tortoiseshell, gold sequins, silk, cabochon rubies, and rose diamonds from the House of Fabergé in Saint Petersburg.

Surfing, Noosa, 1970s Stuart Spence

The play’s the thing

About Face article

Penelope Grist charts an immersive path through Stuart Spence’s photography.

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.

© National Portrait Gallery 2023
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Canberra, ACT 2600, Australia

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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