We acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the Country on which the Art Gallery of NSW stands.


Sir Henry Parkes

(circa 1894)


Tom Roberts

England, Australia

08 Mar 1856 – 14 Sep 1931

Artist profile

Alternate image of Sir Henry Parkes by Tom Roberts
Alternate image of Sir Henry Parkes by Tom Roberts
  • Details

    Other Titles
    Sir Henry Parkes, G.C.M.G.
    The late Sir Henry Parkes, G.C.M.G.
    Place where the work was made
    New South Wales Australia
    (circa 1894)
    Media category
    Materials used
    oil on canvas
    76.7 x 64.0 cm stretcher; 102.5 x 87.5 x 11.5 cm frame
    Signature & date

    Signed l.l., oil "Tom Roberts".

    Gift of Howard Hinton 1922
    Naala Nura, ground level, Grand Courts
    Accession number

    Reproduction requests

    Artist information
    Tom Roberts

    Artist profile

    Works in the collection


  • About

    Tom Roberts greatly admired Sir Henry Parkes, the five-time premier of New South Wales and leading figure in Australia’s Federation movement during the 1880s and 1890s. Roberts painted two versions of Parkes’ portrait in his effort to chronicle Australia’s nascent national identity at the turn of the century.

    This version of Roberts’ portrait is distinguished for the dramatic force of its darkened aesthetic. Roberts creates a sense of inner complexity and alludes to the unknowable aspects of the identity of the celebrity statesman. He employs blackened depth to have Parkes' figure emerge in a play of light and colour harmonies.

    Roberts was ambivalent about working in the portrait genre, but this painting demonstrates an inspired capacity to accommodate representational qualities, psychological suggestion and the modern painter’s emphasis on essence and atmosphere.

  • Places

    Where the work was made

    New South Wales

  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 6 exhibitions

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 12 publications

Other works by Tom Roberts

See all 46 works