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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.

William Bligh

William Bligh

About Face article

The life of William Bligh offers up a handful of the most remarkable episodes in the history of Britain’s eighteenth and early nineteenth-century maritime empire.

Thomas Woolner

Missing Persons

Thomas Woolner in Australia
About Face article

Desperately seeking Woolner medallions

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.

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?

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.

Angus Trumble with Portrait of Sir Joseph Banks by Thomas Phillips

Banksia and grevillea

About Face article

Portraits can render honour to remarkable men and women, but there are other ways.

Portrait of Captain John Hunter

Goods and chattels

About Face article

I have been reading systematically through the ads in the earliest issues of the Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser, such a rich vein of information about certain aspects of daily life in Regency Sydney.

Barry Humphries

Talking heads

About Face article

In their own words lead researcher Louise Maher on the novel project that lets the Gallery’s portraits speak for themselves.

James Mccabe Executed Jany. 6th 1826

The consolations of religion

A bushranger meets his maker, 6 January 1826
About Face article

James McCabe provides proof that hanging wasn’t necessarily a fate reserved for the perpetrators of murder and other deeds of darkest hue. 

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’.

Cocky McGrath

About Face article

The long life and few words of a vice-regal cockatoo

Mirka - 9 Collins Street

Wicked but Virtuous

About Face article

Faith Stellmaker shares pioneering artist and restaurateur Mirka Mora’s lasting legacy on Melbourne’s art, dining and culture.

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

Installation of ‘Face to Face: The New Normal’ at Wagga Wagga Regional Gallery, 2021 Vic McEwan

Facing the feeling

About Face article

Penelope Grist explores the interplay between medicine and portraiture in Vic McEwan’s Face to Face: The New Normal.

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.”

Inditchenous beestes of New Olland

About Face article

A remarkable undated drawing by Edward Lear (1812–88) blends natural history and whimsy.

Sydney Cove medallion, 1789 by Josiah Wedgwood

The medallion

About Face article

In recent years I have become fascinated by the so-called Sydney Cove Medallion (1789), a work of art that bridges the 10,000-mile gap between the newly established penal settlement at Port Jackson and the beating heart of Enlightenment England.

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.

An evening at Yarra Cottage, Port Stephens

Maria Caroline Brownrigg

About Face article

At first glance, this small watercolour group portrait of her two sons and four daughters by Maria Caroline Brownrigg (d. 1880) may seem prosaic, even hesitant

Mural of Italian/Roman actress Anna Magnani (1908­–1973) with face mask, April 2020 Unknown artist

Of plague and portraits

About Face article

Corinna Cullen on the symbolic power of pandemic-related imagery over the ages.

Monument to Mrs. Moore St. Luke’s Church, Liverpool, Sydney

Waterloo and Mrs. Moore

About Face article

Beyond the centenary of the ANZAC landings at Gallipoli, a number of other notable anniversaries converge this year. Waterloo deserves a little focussed consideration, for in the decades following 1815 numerous Waterloo and Peninsular War veterans came to Australia.

Christmas Island

About Face article

This is my last Trumbology before, in a little more than a week from now, I pass to my successor Karen Quinlan the precious baton of the Directorship of the National Portrait Gallery.

Forest Creek, Mount Alexander Diggings, 1852 by S. T. Gill

The Rothschilds, the Montefiores, and the Victorian Gold Rush

About Face article

Some years ago my colleague Andrea Wolk Rager and I spent several days in the darkened basement of a Rothschild Bank, inspecting every one of the nearly 700 autochromes created immediately before World War I by the youthful Lionel de Rothschild.

© National Portrait Gallery 2022
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Canberra, ACT 2600, Australia

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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