The displays in the A & S Liangis Gallery introduce visitors to events that wrought a profound impact throughout the second half of the nineteenth century. The discovery of gold in 1851 initiated an immense wave of immigration, corresponding with a decline in the Indigenous population and the accelerated removal of Aboriginal people to missions and reserves. The 1850s also saw the cessation of convict transportation to Tasmania and other moves toward independence, such as the achievement of responsible government in five of the six Australian states; while the ventures undertaken by explorers such as the ill-fated Burke and Wills evidence a society in thrall to ideas of ‘progress’. Portraits of John Fairfax and David Jones point to the wealth fuelled by farming, mining, business and industry; with the concurrent downsides of crime and disadvantage represented by subjects like Ned Kelly. Also to be found here are works demonstrating the advent of photography and the consequent dismantling of portraiture as the preserve of the rich and powerful. Completing the displays are depictions of sitters such as Sir Henry Parkes and others associated with Federation, along with a selection of portraits by Tom Roberts, who, early in the twentieth century, was the first to propose the formation of a national portrait gallery.
Along with the Liangis Theatre, the A & S Liangis Gallery is named in recognition of the significant contribution to the National Portrait Gallery of the Liangis Family, whose generosity has enabled the acquisition of some of the most important artworks in the collection.
Collection display galleries
The collection display includes a wide selection of portraits that tell extraordinary stories of encounter, exploration, independence, individuality and achievement in Australia. Visitors to the Gallery can follow the development of portraiture from oil painting to digital media.Entry is free.