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

Paul Newton Portrait of Hugh Jackman and Deborra-Lee Furness

oil on linen

215 x 142.2 cm

Paul Newton met Hugh Jackman and Deborra-Lee Furness at an art exhibition in 2017 and immediately thought the power couple would make a fabulous double portrait.

While both are actors and producers, Furness has also been a driving force for adoption reform in Australia. In January 2022, Newton heard that Furness had been named an Officer of the Order of Australia for her service to children as an adoption advocate, to not-for-profit organisations as an ambassador, and to the arts. ‘I felt now would be the perfect time to paint them, and happily they agreed,’ says Newton.

He flew to New York and spent two days at their home, composing the portrait – his 15th in the Archibald. While there, he saw Jackman in his Broadway show The music man. ‘It highlighted why he’s such a star. Quiet and thoughtful one-on-one, he exudes incredible energy, warmth and presence on stage.

‘In this portrait, I wasn’t as interested in portraying two individuals, as I was in capturing their relationship. They struck me as being very much a team. I’ve tried to convey their mutual respect and affection in the pose they’ve adopted, which is theatrical, but also intimate, suggesting the balance between them.’

Listen to label text

Watch Auslan video