Margaret MICHAELIS, 14 June 1948, Parramatta River, Sydney [self-portrait] Enlarge 1 /1


Austria 1902 – Australia 1985

  • Australia from 1939

14 June 1948, Parramatta River, Sydney [self-portrait] 1948 Place made: Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Materials & Technique: photographs, gelatin silver photograph

Primary Insc: Not signed. Dated and titled verso, upper left, pen and black ink, '14 June 1948. / Parramatta River / Sydney.'
Dimensions: printed image 29.5 h x 36.8 w cm sheet 30.4 h x 37.4 w cm
Acknowledgement: Gift of the estate of Margaret Michaelis-Sachs 1986
Accession No: NGA 86.1384.267

Margaret Michaelis’s self-portrait has been brought to completion as a public statement, enlarged to exhibition scale and beautifully printed.

The mouth of the Parramatta River, represented as a semi-industrial wasteland, is a peculiar setting for a self-portrait. Michaelis does not face the camera, as one would expect, but poses with her back to the viewer. She gazes out of the frame towards a view that offers no prospect of beauty or escape.

Resonant with metaphor, the image was taken in the years after the Second World War when Michaelis had begun the slow, painful process of discovering what had happened to her family and friends during the Holocaust

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra