Other law-themed artworks

  • Level 3 foyer area
  • Robert HANNAFORD
  • born 1944 Riverton South Australia
  • Centenary of the High Court of Australia
  • 2003
  • oil on canvas
  • Commissioned for the Centenary in 2003, collection of the High Court of Australia

Robert Hannaford’s painting to mark the Centenary of the High Court of Australia, depicts the Court at work on Tuesday 29 April 2003 hearing the matter of Purvis v State of New South Wales (Department of Education and Training) and Another [2003] HCA 62. It was commissioned as a companion painting to Marcus Beilby’s painting of the first sitting of the Court in 1903. Seated at the centre of the bench is the Chief Justice, the Hon Murray Gleeson AC. Seated to his right are the Hon Justices Michael McHugh AC, Michael Kirby AC and Ian Callinan AC. To his left are the Hon Justices William Gummow AC, Kenneth Hayne AC and Dyson Heydon (awarded an AC in 2004). Mr Stephen Gageler SC who acted for the appellant in the matter is standing at the lectern addressing the Bench. Seated to Mr Gageler’s right are Mr Michael Sexton SC, Solicitor General for the State of New South Wales; his junior Ms Christine Ronalds; then Dr David Bennett QC, the Solicitor-General for the Commonwealth of Australia and his junior, Ms Melissa Perry. Also seated at the bar table, to Mr Gageler’s left are Mr John Basten QC and Professor George Williams.

About the artist

  • The portraits of Sir Gerard Brennan and the Hon Murray Gleeson are typical of Robert Hannaford’s style. They convey the naturalism for which he is known. Hannaford began his art career as a political cartoonist employed by The Advertiser in Adelaide, 1964–67. Mr Hannaford had the benefit of famous mentors, Sir Hans Heysen and Ivor Hele, but had no formal training as a painter.

    Robert Hannaford grew up on his family’s farm near Riverton, South Australia. He still lives near Riverton and has worked full time as a painter and sculptor since 1970. He is a passionate conservationist and for many years has been involved with the revival of the culture and heritage of the local Ngadjuri people. For his portraits he has been widely recognised, winning the Doug Moran Portrait Prize in 1990. He has been selected as a finalist in every Archibald Prize since 1991. He won the popular People’s Choice Award in 1991/2, 1996 and 1998. His portrait subjects generally face the viewer directly. He is known for his ability to capture their naturalness. His work is profiled in, Robert Hannaford: Natural Eye by John Neylon (Wakefield Press, 2007).

    Mr Hannaford’s portraits of other prominent Australians include Dame Joan Sutherland, Sir Donald Bradman, Governor-General Sir William Deane, and Prime Ministers Hawke and Keating. Hannaford’s commissioned portraits of the former Chief Justices Sir Gerard Brennan AC and the Hon Murray Gleeson AC hang in Court 3 of the High Court, on the same level as his centenary painting of the Court at work.

    In 2001 Hannaford was commissioned by the Commonwealth Government to paint the centenary of federation. That painting now hangs in Parliament House as a companion to the famous Tom Roberts work depicting the first sitting of the Australian Parliament in 1901.