Skip to main content

To help keep our visitors and staff safe, please book your spot before visiting.

Menu

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.

Brian Dunlop

In their own words

Recorded 1976

Brian Dunlop
Audio: 2 minutes

Over the past couple of years, I’ve been, I’ve done a few portrait commissions, not many. I’ve always liked painting heads. But I’ve always painted just the people I felt like painting, for myself. But there seems to be such a shortage of portrait painters that people are looking for a bit of new blood, and a lot of the people who do portrait commissions in Australia are getting very old and unable to cope much anymore, and they’ve done so many, people are a bit sick of them. And let’s face it, most of them are very boring paintings. So, I’ve taken on the challenge and I think eventually I’ll be able to do reasonable portrait commissions. I can do a workmanlike job now, but I seem to be a little bit inhibited, scared to let myself go, because of having to please the people who commission them.

With the portrait commissions, I often do sketches, I usually do some sketches beforehand and then work on the actual painting on the spot. I don’t like working from sketches or from photos, I like to have the person there. And it’s most extraordinary what happens. I swear people’s faces change right in front of your eyes. Colour – even the colours change – or maybe I’m changing and seeing it differently, but it’s most extraordinary. I always paint them on their territory, I don’t bring them around to my studio, because they’re more relaxed on their territory and they feel more confident.

Acknowledgements

This oral history of Brian Dunlop is from the De Berg Collection in the National Library of Australia. For more information, or to hear full versions of the recordings, visit the National Library of Australia website.

Audio source

National Library of Australia, Hazel de Berg collection

Related people

Brian Dunlop

Related information

Portrait of Brian Dunlop
Portrait of Brian Dunlop
Portrait of Brian Dunlop
Portrait of Brian Dunlop

A quiet moment

Magazine article by Helene Ladomirska, 2006

As Bryan Westwood’s portrait of Brian Dunlop hangs adjacent to Brian Dunlop’s portrait of the philanthropist Dr Joseph Brown AO OBE, we see the artist of one work as the subject of the other. 

The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance
The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance
The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance
The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance

The Gallery

Visit us, learn with us, support us or work with us! Here’s a range of information about planning your visit, our history and more!

The National Portrait Gallery building at night
The National Portrait Gallery building at night
The National Portrait Gallery building at night
The National Portrait Gallery building at night

Support your Portrait Gallery

We depend on your support to keep creating our programs, exhibitions, publications and building the amazing portrait collection!

© National Portrait Gallery 2021
King Edward Terrace, Parkes
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