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Nora Heysen Robert H Black, MD

oil on canvas laid on composition board

78 x 59 cm

This portrait by Nora Heysen of Robert Hughes Black (1917–1988) is now in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery, Canberra.

Heysen was the first woman awarded the Archibald Prize, winning in 1938. In 1943, she broke more ground when she became the first woman in Australia to be appointed an official war artist. Serving mostly in New Guinea, Heysen produced a large body of work, with the Australian War Memorial acquiring 152 of these under the Official War Art Scheme. New Guinea is also where she met Black, an eminent bacteriologist and professor of tropical medicine at the University of Sydney from 1963 to 1982. When this portrait was painted, Heysen was settling into life in Sydney with Black.