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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.

David Williamson

late 1970s
Louis Kahan

pen and ink on paper (sheet: 37.5 cm x 57.0 cm, mount: 63.5 cm x 48.5 cm)

David Williamson AO (b. 1942), playwright, studied and lectured in mechanical engineering and psychology before achieving success with his works for the stage. His early plays were first produced at alternative theatres - The Coming of Stork (1970) and The Removalists (1971) at Betty Burstall's La Mama in Melbourne, and Don's Party (1971) at the Pram Factory, Carlton, which was home to the Australian Performing Group. Williamson's subsequent plays, many of which have been made into films which he has scripted, include The Department (1975), The Club (1977), Travelling North (1979), The Perfectionist (1982), Emerald City (1987), Brilliant Lies (1993) Dead White Males (1995) Heretic (1996) Corporate Vibes (1999) and Up for Grabs (2001). His film credits include Stork (1971), Petersen (1974), Gallipoli (1980), The Year of Living Dangerously (1981) Phar Lap (1982), and On the Beach (2000). Williamson has received honorary doctorates from Sydney and Monash, and a great number of literary awards.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of Mrs Lily Kahan 2017
Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program
© Louis Kahan/Copyright Agency, 2021

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

Louis Kahan (age 65 in 1970)

David Williamson AO (age 28 in 1970)

Subject professions

Performing arts

Donated by

Lily Kahan (52 portraits)

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.

David Williamson

'Playwriting, people and punchlines'

Portrait story

Australian playwright, David Williamson tells us tales from his career.

Self portrait
Self portrait
Self portrait
Self portrait

A guy from Paris

Magazine article by Dr Sarah Engledow, 2018

Sarah Engledow on a foundational gallery figure who was quick on the draw.

© National Portrait Gallery 2021
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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