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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.

Opening of the First Legislative Council of Victoria, by Governor Charles Joseph LaTrobe, at St Patrick's Hall, Bourke Street West, Melbourne. November 13th 1851. From sketches taken at the time by William Strutt.

Magna Carta

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On this day eight hundred years ago at Runnymede near Windsor, King John signed Magna Carta.

HM Queen Elizabeth II

Longest reign

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Queen Elizabeth II is now the longest-reigning British sovereign

Angkor Wat

Angkor Wat

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Nothing quite prepares the first-time visitor to Cambodia for the scale and grandeur of the monuments of the ancient Khmer civilisation of Angkor.

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.

James Mccabe Executed Jany. 6th 1826

The consolations of religion

A bushranger meets his maker, 6 January 1826
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James McCabe provides proof that hanging wasn’t necessarily a fate reserved for the perpetrators of murder and other deeds of darkest hue. 

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.

Lord Kitchener

Lord Kitchener

Imperial strategist
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Once central to military strategy and venerated in patriotic households, Lord Kitchener is now largely forgotten.

'Moses' by Michelangelo, c. 1513–1515

Not perspiring, but glowing.

The cultural history of radiance.
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Angus Trumble explores the creative manifestations of radiance.

Cocky McGrath

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

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?

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

The Bath Butterfly

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

Portrait of Captain John Hunter

Goods and chattels

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I have been reading systematically through the ads in the earliest issues of the Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser, such a rich vein of information about certain aspects of daily life in Regency Sydney.

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.

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.

Installation of ‘Face to Face: The New Normal’ at Wagga Wagga Regional Gallery, 2021 Vic McEwan

Facing the feeling

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Penelope Grist explores the interplay between medicine and portraiture in Vic McEwan’s Face to Face: The New Normal.

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.

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.

Indexing, the art of

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The first index I created was for my first book, and, to my astonishment, that was almost twenty-five years ago.

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.

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 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.

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.

Anangu landscape learning

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Angus' initial perception of Uluru shifts, as he comes to see it as central to the entire order of Anangu life.

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.

© National Portrait Gallery 2022
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Canberra, ACT 2600, Australia

Phone +61 2 6102 7000
Fax +61 2 6102 7001
ABN: 54 74 277 1196

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