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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.

About Face

Portrait treats and treatises

From punchy short pieces to longer form leanings, it's the place to come for a frequent fix of the world's most accessible art form.

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

Of plague and portraits

by Corinna Cullen, 18 May 2020

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

Jon (Jon Muir)
Jon (Jon Muir)
Jon (Jon Muir)

Roam alone

by Jon Muir OAM, 4 May 2020

Jon Muir, adventurer and Portrait Gallery Collection subject, really knows about isolation.

Hell's mouth, 2019 Cam Neville
Hell's mouth, 2019 Cam Neville
Hell's mouth, 2019 Cam Neville

Facing the inferno

by Tara James, 15 April 2020

Tara James speaks to Cam Neville about his portrait series, Firefighters.

The eye and the heart

by Nici Cumpston, 6 April 2020

Nici Cumpston immerses herself in the collective vision of the National Photographic Portrait Prize 2020.

Christmas Island

by Angus Trumble, 1 December 2018

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.

Lustre, held by a Groom, ca. 1762 by George Stubbs
Lustre, held by a Groom, ca. 1762 by George Stubbs
Lustre, held by a Groom, ca. 1762 by George Stubbs

Stubbs and the horse

by Angus Trumble, 30 October 2018

One of the chief aims of George Stubbs, 1724–1806, the late Judy Egerton’s great 198485 exhibition at the Tate Gallery was to provide an eloquent rebuttal to Josiah Wedgwood’s famous remark of 1780: “Noboby suspects Mr Stubs [sic] of painting anything but horses & lions, or dogs & tigers.”

20/20 launch speech

by Dr Helen Nugent AC, 18 October 2018

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

Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza and David R. L. Litchfield at Villa Favorita, Lugano, Switzerland, 1989 © Nicola Graydo
Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza and David R. L. Litchfield at Villa Favorita, Lugano, Switzerland, 1989 © Nicola Graydo
Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza and David R. L. Litchfield at Villa Favorita, Lugano, Switzerland, 1989 © Nicola Graydo

The Thyssen Art Macabre

by Angus Trumble, 28 September 2018

Books seldom make me angry but this one did. At first, I was powerfully struck by the uncanny parallels that existed between the Mellons of Pittsburgh and the Thyssens of the Ruhr through the same period, essentially the last quarter of the nineteenth century.

The Triumph of Death, c. 1562 by Pieter Bruegel the Elder
The Triumph of Death, c. 1562 by Pieter Bruegel the Elder
The Triumph of Death, c. 1562 by Pieter Bruegel the Elder

The Black Death

by Angus Trumble, 30 August 2018

The best horror stories are real. A flea sinks its proboscis into the skin of a sick black rat, feeds on its blood, and ingests lethally multiplying bacteria.

Helen Borthwick née Pearson
Helen Borthwick née Pearson
Helen Borthwick née Pearson

The personal and the historical

by Angus Trumble, 3 August 2018

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.

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

The cost of living luxuriously

by Angus Trumble, 9 July 2018

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.

Cover, first minute book of the Tasmanian Society of Natural History
Cover, first minute book of the Tasmanian Society of Natural History
Cover, first minute book of the Tasmanian Society of Natural History

Embrace your inner nerd

by Angus Trumble, 1 June 2018

The southern winter has arrived. For people in the northern hemisphere (the majority of humanity) the idea of snow and ice, freezing mist and fog in June, potentially continuing through to August and beyond, encapsulates the topsy-turvidom of our southern continent.

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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