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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.

Meet the Artist

1 Self portrait, 1934 Nora Heysen AM. © Lou Klepac. 2 Divide (Self portrait), 2011 Sam Jinks. © Sam Jinks.

In its uniting of artist and sitter, the self-portrait is an intriguing facet of portraiture. The self-reflection is a format that appears to grant the viewer the assurance of revelation and intimate access to the artist’s psyche. However, what the artist intends to communicate to their audience through self-portraiture is highly varied, and the message each artist conveysis as individual as the artist themselves. Additionally, there is room for the viewer to question how the artist has chosen to depict their image.

1 Self portrait, 2002 Peggy Napangardi Jones. National Gallery of Victoria. Purchased with funds donated by Supporters and Patrons of Aboriginal Art, 2003. 2 Self portrait, 1955 John Brack. National Gallery of Victoria. Purchased with the assistance of the National Gallery Women's Association, 2000.

Self-portraiture is a diverse genre: there are myriad ways an artist can present themselves. A typical way for the artist to portray themselves is in the role of ‘the artist’, including in the work a visual clue to their profession – for instance holding a brush or paint palette – or showing themselves at work in the studio.

1 In the mirror: self portrait with Joy Hester, 1939 Albert Tucker. 2 Self portrait, 'I am the Dingo Spirit', 2015 Trevor Turbo Brown. National Gallery of Victoria. Gift of Vince Sinni in memory of Trevor Turbo Brown through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program, 2018.

As part of an investigation of self, these representations can also communicate the complexities of status and gender. This selection of works explores what the artists intend to reveal or exclude about themselves through their self-representations, considering the environment in which the artists are placed, and the props and imagery they choose to include in their works.

1 A woman's work is never done + I feel like when my father used to dry my hair, 1992 Jenny Watson. National Gallery of Victoria. Purchased, 1999. 2 Self Portrait #2, 1947/2007 William Yang, an unknown artist. © William Yang. 3 The man in black, 1925 Napier Waller CMG OBE. National Gallery of Victoria. Gift of Mr Eric Thake, 1967.
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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