Skip to content

Update from the Gallery regarding COVID-19

The Art Gallery of New South Wales is open. We are observing strict physical distancing and hygiene measures to protect the health of visitors and staff and minimise the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus). Read the latest visit information




Australian art

Contemporary art

View More:


Janet Laurence



John Beard

Wales, Australia

1943 -


Janet Laurence’s work has been described as echoing architecture while retaining a sense of the instability and transience found in nature; John Beard’s artist portraits share similar qualities. While painting the structure, or architecture, of his sitters’ heads and faces, he also aims to capture a sense of fleeting, ever changing expression.

From this collaboration of artists and artists-as-subject, a kind of double portraiture is possible. Without the use of colour to highlight the differences or similarities between the subjects, Beard focuses the viewer’s attention not just on the individual sitter but on the structure of the painting itself. Light also plays an important role, allowing the eye to move around the forms to fully appreciate their sculptural qualities.

Beard is a painter of the late 20th century whose subject is as much painting itself as the object he renders. In the history of portrait painting there is a fascinating debate that goes back to the mid 19th century. This is the question of authenticity of the image. It is not an issue of faithfulness to the illusion, but to a kind of presence that is realised through the fracture of the work.

Beard was awarded the 2007 Archibald Prize for this portrait of Janet Laurence. This work was acquired by the Gallery in 2007.




Media category


Materials used

oil and wax on linen


180.0 x 180.0 cm


Purchased 2007


Not on display

Accession number


Archibald Prize

Winner - 2007

Artist information

John Beard

Works in the collection


Shown in 2 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 1 publication


Art Gallery of New South Wales, Archibald Prize 2007, Sydney, 2007. Archibald Prize winner