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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.

Chandler Coventry

1999
Anne Zahalka

from the series ‘The Innovators – collectors who shaped Sydney’s Avant-Garde, 1963 -1978’
type C photograph on paper, edition 1/1 (image: 61.0 cm x 50.0 cm, frame: 74.0 cm x 64.0 cm)

Chandler Phillip Coventry AM (1924–1999), grazier, gallerist, art collector and arts patron, was born in Armidale, New South Wales to an established New England grazing family. Boarding at Barker College, Sydney for his secondary schooling, and he worked on the family property, Alor-Amia Station, north east of Armidale during his holidays. At the completion of his schooling he returned to New England to farm. Inheriting his first pastoral property, Tulloch, at the age of twenty, Coventry continued to purchase and inherit land over a number of years, resulting in ownership of over 15,000 hectares on which he bred sheep and cattle. His properties were recognised for producing some of the finest wool in Australia.

Meanwhile, Coventry became an avid art collector. Commencing with works by significant mid-twentieth century Australian artists including Ian Fairweather, Russell Drysdale and Arthur Boyd, Coventry began to spend increasing amounts of time in Sydney, immersed in the arts. In 1965 he relocated permanently to the city, becoming involved in Central Street Gallery prior to opening his own gallery, in his home in Paddington in 1970. In 1974 Coventry Gallery moved to an independent space, also in Paddington. The exhibition schedule was filled with shows by significant Australian and international contemporary artists, such as David Hockney and Bridget Riley. During this time, he continued to collect art, and amassed a personal collection with a focus on expressionist and abstractionist painters. This collection was once described by James Mollison, inaugural director of the National Gallery of Australia, as 'one of the most important private collections of contemporary Australian art.' Active as a patron in the contemporary art scene in Sydney, Coventry actively supported John Kaldor's Kaldor Public Art Projects including the famous Wrapped Coast – One Million Square Feet, Little Bay, Sydney, Australia, 1968–1969 by Christo and Jeanne-Claude.

In 1960, Coventry donated a selection of over fifty works to the Armidale City Gallery. This was followed in 1979 with the donation of a large part of his private collection to the gallery on the proviso that a specific art museum would be built to hold his donated works and the Howard Hinton collection of art. He actively fundraised and campaigned for the new gallery. The result was the New England Regional Art Museum, of which Coventry was a founding patron and trustee. After suffering two devastating strokes in the 1980s, he took a three-year hiatus from Coventry Gallery. Upon his return, he exhibited significant contemporary Australian artists including Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Aida Tomescu and David Larwill. The subject of the Archibald winning portrait by Nigel Thomson in 1983, Coventry remained actively involved in his gallery's operations, living on the premises until his death in 1999. The Gallery closed in December the same year.

Purchased 2021
© Anne Zahalka/Copyright Agency, 2022

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

Anne Zahalka (age 42 in 1999)

Chandler P. Coventry AM (age 75 in 1999)

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.

The cook (Michael Schmidt/architect), 1987
The cook (Michael Schmidt/architect), 1987
The cook (Michael Schmidt/architect), 1987
The cook (Michael Schmidt/architect), 1987

Hall of mirrors

Magazine article by Naomi Cass, 2007

Naomi Cass, Director of the Centre of Contemporary Photography, in conversation with Anne Zahalka.

The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance
The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance
The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance
The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance

The Gallery

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© National Portrait Gallery 2022
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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