Max DUPAIN, Portrait of Olive Enlarge 1 /1


Australia 1911 – 1992

Portrait of Olive 1940 Materials & Technique: photographs, gelatin silver photograph

Dimensions: printed image 48.6 h x 40.0 w cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 1982
Accession No: NGA 82.1114

Dupain took this photograph of Cotton in a beach dress at their home during the short period they were married. It was a busy time for the couple: Dupain undertook work for the newly formed Department of Information while the studio remained active. Dupain asserted throughout his life that portraiture was the genre that he found most difficult of all; this portrait of his then-wife perhaps demonstrates something of Dupain’s lack of comfort with the genre. liked photographing people, he replied, ‘Yeah, with reserve. I suppose I’m a still-life man basically, into architecture and lots of other things’. And yet, despite his misgivings and a strange, wonderful awkwarkness that sometimes invades his portrait work, there are many examples showing Dupain’s rapport with his subjects and a spontaneity not seen elsewhere in his work.

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra