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

🛈 Find out what you need to know before visiting

Robert Hannaford Rabbi Apple

oil on canvas

91.5 x 122 cm

Rabbi Raymond Apple is chief rabbi at the Great Synagogue in Castlereagh Street, Sydney, where this work now hangs. Robert Hannaford’s portrait of him was a commission to commemorate the Rabbi’s 30 years of service to the congregation. Hannaford was flown up to Sydney where he stayed in a hotel close to the synagogue. They hired two rooms and it was there that Hannaford painted the portrait.

The Rabbi had a couple of different outfits but Hannaford chose this one because of the lighter colours. ‘It just seemed most appropriate with his pleasant smiling face to have a light figure against a dark background,’ he says. It was painted in seven sittings over the course of seven days. Hannaford does all his portraits from life, never using photographs. ‘It’s all there in the many hours you spend together,’ he says. ‘This went rather well. It was quicker and more spontaneous than most of my commissioned work. He was a very good sitter.’

Born in 1944, Hannaford lives and works in Riverton, South Australia. A largely self-taught artist, he is acclaimed for his portraits but also paints landscapes and nudes and is a sculptor. He has been hung in the Archibald Prize on 12 previous occasions, winning the People’s Choice award in 1991, 1996 and 1998.