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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.

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Sketch for portrait of John Perceval

c. 1962
John Brack

charcoal on Paper (sheet: 50.6 cm x 38 cm)

John Perceval AO (1923-2000) was a painter and ceramic artist. Early on, along with Sidney Nolan, Arthur Boyd and Albert Tucker, he was part of a loose group of largely self-taught Australian artists, now known as the Angry Penguins, who rebelled against the conservatism of the art establishment. In the 1940s he went to work as a potter and sculptor with the Boyd family at Murrumbeena. He married Mary Boyd, younger sister of Arthur, and three of their four children became painters. Joint winner of the Wynne Prize for landscape art in 1960, Perceval remains known as one of the leading Australian landscape painters of the 1950s and 1960s. His ceramic work from the same period includes a celebrated series of representations of angels. In the 1980s his long-term alcoholism saw Perceval consigned to a psychiatric hospital. During his time there his old 'comrades of the canvas' would take him out painting, paying for his materials and models. By 1988 he had moved to an elderly persons' hostel in Kew, and was able to show some new work at a South Yarra gallery. The National Gallery of Victoria held a large retrospective of his work in 1990. Before he died, his painting Scudding Swans 1959 set the record for the highest price for a painting by a living Australian artist.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of Helen Brack 2012
© Helen Brack

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

John Brack (age 42 in 1962)

John Perceval AO (age 39 in 1962)

Subject professions

Visual arts and crafts

Donated by

Helen Brack (2 portraits)

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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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