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John Beard Edmund (+ Bill)

oil and wax on linen

150 x 150 cm

John Beard’s subject is Edmund Capon, the former director of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, who died in March 2019.

‘Edmund changed the cultural landscape for museums in Australia. He really did make a difference,’ says Beard.

‘I wanted my painting to reveal Edmund’s confident energy, his flamboyant good looks, his charismatic presence and his zealous nature. He loved art and people in equal measure, and was loved by many artists, including Bill Henson. When I saw Bill’s photograph at Edmund’s home, I knew it would feature prominently as a symbol of their close friendship and mutual respect.’

‘Edmund was a generous friend to me, and it was important that my portrait works independently as both a painting and a portrait. I had, after all, won the Archibald Prize as a sitter for Fred Cress in 1988, won the Archibald as a painter in 2007, and judged the Archibald when I was a trustee, all under his directorship. He saw the completed painting just before he left for England last September. He said with familiar enthusiasm, “I love it… I just love it!”’

Born in 1943 in Wales, Beard divides time between Sydney and London. This is his fifth time as an Archibald Prize finalist. He won the Wynne Prize in 2006. His portrait of Capon is now in the collection of the Art Gallery of NSW.

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