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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.

L. Gordon Darling AC CMG

2006
Jiawei Shen

oil on canvas (frame: 180.5 cm x 164.5 cm, support: 168.8 cm x 153.0 cm)

L Gordon Darling AC CMG (1921-2015), the Founding Patron of the National Portrait Gallery, was born in London and schooled in England before serving as a major in the AIF during World War II. In the early 1950s he became a company director with BHP, a position he held for thirty-two years. For fifteen years during this period he was also Chairman of Rheem Australia and Koitaki Ltd. His interest in the visual arts led him to accept the position of inaugural Chairman of the Board of the Australian National Gallery from 1982 to 1986. At the end of this period he established The Gordon Darling Australian Print Fund, which has acquired more than 6000 prints for the national collection to date. In 1991 he established the Gordon Darling Foundation, which provides funding and staff development opportunities for public art institutions Australia-wide. That year, too, he and his wife, Marilyn, initiated and facilitated the touring exhibition Uncommon Australians: Towards an Australian Portrait Gallery. The interest generated by the exhibition led to the establishment of the National Portrait Gallery. Amongst the very earliest acquisitions of the Gallery were gifts from Darling, who accepted the inaugural Board's invitation to become the Founding Patron of the Gallery in mid-1998. Since then he has enabled the acquisition of many key works for the Collection, and his support carried the Gallery to the opening of its new, dedicated home in December 2008.

Jiawei Shen (b. 1948) who painted the portrait of Crown Princess Mary of Denmark for the National Portrait Gallery in 2005, often places his sitters within evocative dreamlike or remembered settings. The backdrop of his portrait of Darling suggests the competition-winning design for the dedicated National Portrait Gallery – the project the Founding Patron long envisaged and urged. Set apart from the rest of the Collection in the Gordon Darling Hall, and seeming to capture some of the natural light of the space, his portrait hangs adjacent to the boards listing the many donors and benefactors to the institution.

Purchased with the assistance of the Mundango Charitable Trust and Claudia Hyles 2006
© Jiawei Shen

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

Jiawei Shen (age 58 in 2006)

L Gordon Darling AC CMG (age 85 in 2006)

Supported by

Claudia Hyles OAM (2 portraits supported)

Mundango Charitable Trust (1 portrait 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.

Gordon Darling

by Jiawei Shen

Portrait story

Gordon Darling talks about how Jiawei Shen came to paint his portrait.

Princess Mary

Portrait story

Artist Jiawei Shen describes the symbolism in his portrait of HRH Crown Princess Mary of Denmark.

© National Portrait Gallery 2021
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Canberra, ACT 2600, Australia

Phone +61 2 6102 7000
Fax +61 2 6102 7001
ABN: 54 74 277 1196

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