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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.

Study for "Barry Humphries in the character of Mrs Everage"

1969
John Brack

pencil on paper (frame: 82.5 cm x 105.0 cm, sheet: 51.5 cm x 70.5 cm)

Barry Humphries AO CBE (b. 1934), actor, writer and artist, is the world’s all-time most successful solo theatrical performer. After studying law for two years, Humphries joined the Melbourne Theatre Company. In 1955 he created his archetypes of suburban mediocrity: Mrs Edna Everage, a Moonee Ponds mother and housewife, her longsuffering husband Norm, and the washed-out, ruminative Sandy Stone. From the late 1950s Humphries performed in his own one-man shows in Australia, Britain, Europe and the US, and Edna Everage dilated with increasing flamboyance in shows including Housewife, Super-star; Edna, the Spectacle; Dame Edna the Royal Tour; and Eat Pray Laugh!, which Humphries announced would be her last. In 2000 Humphries won a Special Tony Award, a Drama Desk Award, a Theatre World Award, and an Outer Critics Circle Award. He was the subject of the National Portrait Gallery’s first large-scale biographical exhibition in 2002; the following year, he gained an honorary doctorate from the University of Melbourne. His many books include – unusually – two different autobiographies, More Please (1992) and My Life as Me (2002) as well as an autobiography of Edna Everage, My Gorgeous Life (1997) in which the meeting between Humphries and Everage is described in detail.

John Brack (1920-1999), an incisive satirist of Menzies-era suburban aspirations, painted Mrs Everage in a period in which Barry Humphries was experiencing a series of personal vicissitudes. In Brack’s painting, which is in the collection of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Mrs Everage wears a lime-green dress and a hot-pink coat made of the Thai silk favoured by bourgeois housewives of the time.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of Timothy Fairfax AC 2012
Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program
© 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 49 in 1969)

Barry Humphries (age 35 in 1969)

Subject professions

Performing arts

Donated by

Tim Fairfax AC (1 portrait)

Related information

Portrait Play activities in the gallery
Portrait Play activities in the gallery
Portrait Play activities in the gallery
Portrait Play activities in the gallery

Portrait play

10:30am, Mon 4 Jul – Fri 15 Jul

Are you aged between 4 and 8 years old? Why not join us in the galleries to explore portraits through drawing and creative activity?

Ceremony: Welcome to Our Country written by Adam Goodes and Ellie Laing
Ceremony: Welcome to Our Country written by Adam Goodes and Ellie Laing
Ceremony: Welcome to Our Country written by Adam Goodes and Ellie Laing
Ceremony: Welcome to Our Country written by Adam Goodes and Ellie Laing

Story time

Ceremony: Welcome to Our Country

10:30am, 1:30pm, Wed 6 Jul

Come and celebrate NAIDOC week with a reading of Ceremony: Welcome to Our Country written by Adam Goodes and Ellie Laing, followed by some colourful and playful activities.

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.

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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