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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.

The Gallery’s Acknowledgement of Country, and information on culturally sensitive and restricted content and the use of historic language in the collection can be found here.

Radical Restraint Justice Michael Kirby

1998
Ralph Heimans

oil on canvas (frame: 185.0 cm x 231.0 cm depth 4.4 cm, support: 183.1 cm x 228.7 cm)

The Hon. Justice Michael Kirby AC CMG (b. 1939) was a Justice of the High Court of Australia from 1996 to 2009, having been President of the New South Wales Court of Appeal from 1984 to 1996. During his first year on the High Court, Kirby was plunged into the Wik Peoples vs The State of Queensland case, the first major Indigenous land title case following the Mabo decision of 1992. In December 1996 Kirby was among the judges who ruled that the grant of certain Queensland pastoral leases under past Land Acts did not extinguish Indigenous people's rights and interests in the land involved. In 1998, in response to the Wik decision, the Australian Government amended the 1993 Native Title Act, which had arisen out of the Mabo case.

This painting by Ralph Heimans refers to a speech Kirby made when leaving the NSW Court of Appeal, paying tribute to the line of judges before him. Two former presidents, Justices Sugerman and Wallace, are identifiable. In preparation for the painting, Heimans sketched him at his desk, and has said that Kirby's rather impatient glance in the portrait reflects the judge's expression as the artist asked him to look up for a moment.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Purchased with funds from the Basil Bressler Bequest 2001
© Ralph Heimans

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. Works of art from the collection are reproduced as per the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). The use of images of works from the collection may be restricted under the Act. Requests for a reproduction of a work of art can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

Artist and subject

Ralph Heimans (age 28 in 1998)

The Hon. Justice Michael Kirby AC CMG (age 59 in 1998)

Subject professions

Law and justice

Supported by

Basil P. Bressler (48 portraits supported)

Related information

The Companion

Permanent collection catalogue

Café and shop

On one level The Companion talks about the most famous and frontline Australians, but on another it tells us about ourselves: who we read, who we watch, who we listen to, who we cheer for, who we aspire to be, and who we'll never forget. The Companion is available to buy online and in the Portrait Gallery Store.

Portrait of HRH Crown Princess Mary, 2006 by Ralph Heimans
Portrait of HRH Crown Princess Mary, 2006 by Ralph Heimans
Portrait of HRH Crown Princess Mary, 2006 by Ralph Heimans
Portrait of HRH Crown Princess Mary, 2006 by Ralph Heimans

Dane reign

Magazine article by Mette Skougaard and Thomas Lyngby, 2018

Mette Skougaard and Thomas Lyngby bring eloquent context to Ralph Heimans’ portraits of Crown Princess Mary and Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark.

The Coronation Theatre, Westminster Abbey: A Portrait of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, 2012
The Coronation Theatre, Westminster Abbey: A Portrait of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, 2012
The Coronation Theatre, Westminster Abbey: A Portrait of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, 2012
The Coronation Theatre, Westminster Abbey: A Portrait of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, 2012

Imagination

Magazine article by Dr Sarah Engledow, 2013

Dr Sarah Engledow tells the story of The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee portrait by Australian artist Ralph Heimans.

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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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