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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.

Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, 1899 by Carl Pietzner

The Archduke

About Face article

The immediate chain of events that led to the outbreak of the First World War began 100 years ago on June 28.

Olga Radalyski prison records, on loan from the Public Record Office of Victoria.

The sensational denouement of the case

The Yarra Boot Trunk Tragedy, 12 January 1899
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The 'Yarra Boot Trunk Tragedy' unfolded a week before Christmas 1898, when some neighbourhood boys noticed a wooden box floating in the river at Richmond. 

Koko & Kiko (42nd Street Series), 1980 by Larry Clark

Best buds

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It’s important to have a best bud when you’re growing up. For many boys the transition from boyhood through adolescence is defined by wanting to fit in. 

Hugh 2015, by Warwick Baker

Friends

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Warwick Baker’s photos of his friends are intimate. They hold a stillness that allows their subjects to be at ease.

The selfie stick

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Last week ABC Television came to interview me about selfie sticks. The story was prompted by the announcement that the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York has lately prohibited the use of these inside their galleries. So far as I am aware we have not yet encountered the phenomenon, but no doubt we will before too long.

Barry Humphries

Talking heads

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

Percy, Reginald, Monty and George Faithfull, undated by Henry Dorner. Image courtesy the National Museum of Australia.

An affray which deserves particular mention

Ben Hall and his gang outdone, 6 February 1865
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Bushranger Ben Hall and his cronies held around 40 people hostage in a pub north-west of Goulburn, telling their captives ‘don’t be alarmed; we only came here for a bit of fun’.

Untitled, Conductors, Tramways series, 1990 © Matt Nettheim

Back track

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Penelope Grist finds photographer Matt Nettheim re-visiting a formative and fulfilling career tram stop.

A papal pet encounter

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

Cocky McGrath

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The long life and few words of a vice-regal cockatoo

Ngalim-Ngalimbooroo Ngagenybe

Storied portrait

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Emily Casey takes in Shirley Purdie’s remarkable self-portrait, Ngalim-Ngalimbooroo Ngagenybe.

Ellen Stirling

Very fine and very like

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When did notions of very fine and very like become separate qualities of a portrait? And what happens to 'very like' in the age of photographic portraiture?

H.H. Princess Marie Louise

Happy New Year

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This year (in March) we will celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the formal establishment of the National Portrait Gallery. In the life of institutions, twenty years is not a long time.

Surfing, Noosa, 1970s Stuart Spence

The play’s the thing

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

Luke and Nacoya, 2016 by Daniel Sponiar

The National Photographic Portrait Prize turns ten

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It is now a little more than 178 years since the French Academy of Sciences was made aware of the invention of the daguerreotype process.

Inditchenous beestes of New Olland

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A remarkable undated drawing by Edward Lear (1812–88) blends natural history and whimsy.

Grateful admiration and brotherly love

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In the earliest stages of the Great War, the Royal Pavilion in Brighton was turned into a military hospital, and arrangements made there to accommodate the different dietary and other requirements of Hindu, Sikh and Muslim patients.

Asiel Timor Dei, ca. 1728 by a master of Calamarca

The Viceroyalty of New Spain

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European painters always enjoyed a good deal of latitude in the representation of angels, those asexual, bodiless, celestial regiments of God, so long as they were young and beautiful.

Mirka - 9 Collins Street

Wicked but Virtuous

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Faith Stellmaker shares pioneering artist and restaurateur Mirka Mora’s lasting legacy on Melbourne’s art, dining and culture.

An evening at Yarra Cottage, Port Stephens

Maria Caroline Brownrigg

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At first glance, this small watercolour group portrait of her two sons and four daughters by Maria Caroline Brownrigg (d. 1880) may seem prosaic, even hesitant

Helen Borthwick née Pearson

The personal and the historical

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Where do we draw a line between the personal and the historical? Although she died in Melbourne in 1975, when I was not quite eleven years old, I have the vividest memories of my maternal grandmother Helen Borthwick.

The National Portrait Gallery's 20th birthday party

The National Portrait Gallery's 20th Anniversary

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Last month we marked the twentieth anniversary of the formal establishment of the National Portrait Gallery, the tenth of the opening of our signature building, and the fifth of our having become a statutory authority under Commonwealth legislation.

Mural of Italian/Roman actress Anna Magnani (1908­–1973) with face mask, April 2020 Unknown artist

Of plague and portraits

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Corinna Cullen on the symbolic power of pandemic-related imagery over the ages.

The stately lotus

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I spent much of my summer holiday at D’Omah, on the outskirts of Yogyakarta. Lotus and waterlilies sprout in extraordinary profusion in artful ponds amid palms and deep scarlet ginger flowers.

Monument to Mrs. Moore St. Luke’s Church, Liverpool, Sydney

Waterloo and Mrs. Moore

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Beyond the centenary of the ANZAC landings at Gallipoli, a number of other notable anniversaries converge this year. Waterloo deserves a little focussed consideration, for in the decades following 1815 numerous Waterloo and Peninsular War veterans came to Australia.

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

Portraiture in a Bleak House

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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.

Olegas Truchanas

Giving a dam

True south #1
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Ensconced and meditative in crisp Tasmania, Joanna Gilmour pays tribute to passionate green advocate and photographer Olegas Truchanas.

Sir Douglas Mawson

Staying home

True south #2
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Joanna Gilmour brings a mindful Douglas Mawson’s perspective to bear on the concept of isolation.

20/20 launch speech

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Dr Helen Nugent AO, Chairman, National Portrait Gallery at the opening of 20/20: Celebrating twenty years with twenty new portrait commissions.

Group photograph taken at the coronation of King George VI including Queen Elizabeth II, Duke and Duchess of Gloucester and the Queen Mother, 12 May 1937 by Hay Wrightson

Poise and Carats

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I keep going back to Cartier: The Exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia next door, and, within the exhibition, to Princess Marie Louise’s diamond, pearl and sapphire Indian tiara (1923), surely one of the most superb head ornaments ever conceived.

Christmas Island

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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.

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

The Rothschilds, the Montefiores, and the Victorian Gold Rush

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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.

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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