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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.

Death mask of George Melville courtesy of National Trust of Australia (Victoria), Old Melbourne Gaol Collection

A colourful story from Sideshow Alley

Infamy, the macabre & the portrait
About Face article

From infamous bushranger to oyster shop display, curator Jo Gilmour explores the life of George Melville.

Gough Whitlam

Prime Ministers

About Face article

On the day before the Hon. E. G. Whitlam, AC, QC, died last month, at the great age of 98, there were seven former prime ministers of Australia still living, plus the incumbent Mr. Abbott – eight in all.

HM Queen Elizabeth II

Longest reign

About Face article

Queen Elizabeth II is now the longest-reigning British sovereign

Percy, Reginald, Monty and George Faithfull, undated by Henry Dorner. Image courtesy the National Museum of Australia.

An affray which deserves particular mention

Ben Hall and his gang outdone, 6 February 1865
About Face article

Bushranger Ben Hall and his cronies held around 40 people hostage in a pub north-west of Goulburn, telling their captives ‘don’t be alarmed; we only came here for a bit of fun’.

Field Marshal the Lord Birdwood

Centenary of ANZAC

About Face article

Just now we pause to mark the centenary of ANZAC, the day when, together with British, other imperial and allied forces, the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps landed at Gallipoli at the start of the ill-starred Dardanelles campaign.

Thomas Woolner

Missing Persons

Thomas Woolner in Australia
About Face article

Desperately seeking Woolner medallions

Portrait of HRH Crown Princess Mary of Denmark

Tribute: Mary Isabel Murphy

About Face article

The Chairman, Board, Director and all the staff of the National Portrait Gallery mourn the loss of our Benefactor, Mary Isabel Murphy.

Andrew George Scott, alias Captain Moonlite, c.1879 attributed to Charles Nettleton

Diseased curiosity

Captain Moonlite et al on trial for murder
About Face article

Just after 10.00 o'clock on 3 December 1879, four prisoners were brought from their cells at Darlinghurst Gaol and placed in the dock of a courtroom heaving with agitated spectators

The great South Sea caterpillar transformed into a Bath Butterfly (Sir Joseph Banks)

The Bath Butterfly

About Face article

The caricaturist and engraver James Gillray's biting satires about Sir Joseph Banks. 

Thomas Woolner

The mystery of Enoch Arden

About Face article

Tennyson's Enoch Arden was inspired by a story that Thomas Woolner passed on to him – but whose story and of whom?

Cooey: an Australian song

Cooey! An Australian Song

About Face article

"Coo-ey, Coo-ey, Coo-ey, Coo-ey—Love has caught the strain, Coo-ey, Coo-ey, Coo-ey, Coo-ey—it whispers back again." The “Australian lady” who composed these fruity lyrics was none other than Desda— Jane Davies, sometime Messiter (née Price) of Leddicott, Lavender Bay.

Lustre, held by a Groom, ca. 1762 by George Stubbs

Stubbs and the horse

About Face article

One of the chief aims of George Stubbs, 1724–1806, the late Judy Egerton’s great 198485 exhibition at the Tate Gallery was to provide an eloquent rebuttal to Josiah Wedgwood’s famous remark of 1780: “Noboby suspects Mr Stubs [sic] of painting anything but horses & lions, or dogs & tigers.”

Ellen Stirling

Very fine and very like

About Face article

When did notions of very fine and very like become separate qualities of a portrait? And what happens to 'very like' in the age of photographic portraiture?

Helen Borthwick née Pearson

The personal and the historical

About Face article

Where do we draw a line between the personal and the historical? Although she died in Melbourne in 1975, when I was not quite eleven years old, I have the vividest memories of my maternal grandmother Helen Borthwick.

20/20 launch speech

About Face article

Dr Helen Nugent AO, Chairman, National Portrait Gallery at the opening of 20/20: Celebrating twenty years with twenty new portrait commissions.

Indexing, the art of

About Face article

The first index I created was for my first book, and, to my astonishment, that was almost twenty-five years ago.

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Canberra, ACT 2600, Australia

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Fax +61 2 6102 7001
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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