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Portraits of Chief Justices and the first bench

  • Court 3
  • Judy CASSAB
  • born 1920 Vienna, to Australia 1950
  • Sir Harry Gibbs
  • 1982
  • oil on canvas
  • High Court of Australia Historic Memorials Collection

The Rt Hon Sir Harry Talbot Gibbs (1917–2005) was a Justice of the High Court from 4 August 1970 to 11 February 1981, and Chief Justice from 12 February 1981 to 5 February 1987. After graduating from the University of Queensland with a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Laws, he was admitted to the Queensland Bar in 1939, and was appointed a Queen's Counsel (QC) in 1957. During World War II he served as a Major, including in New Guinea. Sir Harry Gibbs was a Judge of the Supreme Court of Queensland from 1961–67, and a Judge of the Federal Court of Bankruptcy and Supreme Court of the ACT 1967–70. He was appointed a Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (KBE) in 1970, a Privy Counsellor (PC) in 1972, and a Grand Cross of St Michael and St George (GCMG) in 1981.

Cassab’s portrait of Sir Harry Gibbs is fairly conventional. He is seated in full robes and wig, his arms resting along the arms of the chair. As with three of the other portraits in Court 3, he is placed against a plain background.

Former Chief Justices (further information)

About the artist

  • Judy Cassab was born in 1920 in Vienna to Hungarian parents. She studied in Prague and the Budapest Academy. The harrowing story of her early adult life is told in her autobiography Judy Cassab: Diaries (Alfred A Knopf, 1995) and the biography by Brenda Niall, Judy Cassab: An Australian Story (Allen and Unwin, 2007). Members of Cassab's family perished in Auschwitz and her husband was interned. After his release and their migration to Australia, Cassab’s career as an artist blossomed. She has held many solo exhibitions and won many art prizes and awards. She is one of the few women artists to win an Archibald Prize, and twice – in 1960 for her portrait of the artist Stanislaus Rapotec (1913–97), and in 1967 for a portrait of the artist Margo Lewers (1908–78). Judy Cassab has been commissioned to paint many eminent people and has travelled to England many times to fulfil portrait commissions. Her portraiture style reflects expressionist influences. In 1969 she was appointed as a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE) for service to the visual arts, and in 1988 she was awarded an Officer of the Order of Australia (AO). After the publication of her diaries, Sydney University conferred upon Cassab the honorary degree of Doctor of Letters (D Litt).