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Hal Porterc 1934

by William Dargie

Portrait painter William Dargie was an eight-times winner of the Archibald Prize. His striking portrait of literary figure and personal friend Hal Porter was created well before he achieved fame with his much more conventional Archibald-winning portraits. Kept by Porter until 1966, it was then sold to the State Library, together with his literary papers.

At the time, the Library queried the value of a painted portrait as a record: ‘I still don’t think we want to pay any money at all for an oil painting of Porter when a photograph would do’. By the 1960s oil portraits were often considered old fashioned and conservative, and lacking the documentary rigour of photography.