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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.

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.

Trumble and Borthwick families (Mum front right, Angus smallest), ca. 1968
Trumble and Borthwick families (Mum front right, Angus smallest), ca. 1968
Trumble and Borthwick families (Mum front right, Angus smallest), ca. 1968

Humdinger

by Angus Trumble, 7 May 2018

At a meeting by teleconference of the National Portrait Gallery Foundation last week, I found myself reporting that our forthcoming exhibition So Fine is going to be “a humdinger,” whereupon Tim Fairfax chuckled and said that he hadn’t heard that expression for years.

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
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
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

by Angus Trumble, 30 April 2018

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.

The National Portrait Gallery's 20th birthday party
The National Portrait Gallery's 20th birthday party
The National Portrait Gallery's 20th birthday party

The National Portrait Gallery's 20th Anniversary

by Angus Trumble, 10 April 2018

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.

The stately lotus

by Angus Trumble, 1 February 2018

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.

H.H. Princess Marie Louise
H.H. Princess Marie Louise
H.H. Princess Marie Louise

Happy New Year

1 January 2018

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.

Indexing, the art of

by Angus Trumble, 30 November 2017

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

An evening at Yarra Cottage, Port Stephens
An evening at Yarra Cottage, Port Stephens
An evening at Yarra Cottage, Port Stephens

Maria Caroline Brownrigg

by Angus Trumble, 22 November 2017

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

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

The Rothschilds, the Montefiores, and the Victorian Gold Rush

by Angus Trumble, 30 October 2017

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.

Mark Loane
Mark Loane
Mark Loane

An active and contemplative life

by Angus Trumble, 28 September 2017

From Cicero through St. Augustine and Coluccio Salutati right up to the present day, we have regularly weighed the significance, respective merits and competing priorities of the “active” versus the “contemplative” life. Can they coexist?

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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.

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