Thursday 29 June until Sunday 22 October 2017
This is the first exhibition to showcase the compelling watercolour images of English street people made by the itinerant English painter John Dempsey throughout the first half of the nineteenth century.
Featuring 52 rarely-seen portraits, the exhibition profiles the stories of town-criers, match-sellers, chimney-sweeps, street-food vendors, and numerous other characters populating the urban landscape of Regency-era and early Victorian Britain. Remarkable in their incisive realism and providing rare visual documentation of people otherwise overlooked by history, Dempsey’s portraits bring to life the fictional worlds of writers like Charles Dickens, presenting a vivid and distinctive survey of street people in British cities and towns. Similarly, the life and work of John Dempsey stands as representative of a substantial but uncelebrated layer of pictorial production in this era, a pre-photographic cultural infrastructure of journeyman oil painters, watercolourists, miniaturists, popular portraitists and cutters and painters of shades.
Curated by guest curator Dr David Hansen, Associate Professor with the Centre for Art History and Art Theory at the ANU, Dempsey’s people is accompanied by a full-colour, scholarly publication.
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.
Australian Movie Portraits
until Sunday 4 March 2018
Striking, beautiful portraiture comes out of the most thoroughly documented creative process there is – filmmaking. In a ground-breaking collaboration the National Portrait Gallery and National Film and Sound Archive invite you into this captivating realm between real and fictional worlds.