The squatter, Dr R B Kelley1939

by Norman Carter

Ralph Bodkin Kelley, born in 1890, was educated in Victoria, qualifying as a veterinary scientist. In 1915 he joined the Australian Army Veterinary Corps. After the war, Kelley joined the Department of Lands, teaching the care and management of farm animals to soldier settlers. He joined the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research as an animal geneticist in 1931, and later was the officer-in-charge of the FD McMaster Field Station at Badgerys Creek.

Norman Carter’s portrait depicts Kelley as part of Australia’s pastoral ideal, masculine and powerful, and part of the landed gentry. The portrait was a finalist in the 1939 Archibald Prize — one critic thought the figure well painted, but the background colour too cold.