Portraits of Chief Justices and the first bench

  • Court 3
  • Robert HANNAFORD
  • born 1944 Riverton South Australia
  • Sir Gerard Brennan
  • 1996
  • oil on canvas
  • High Court of Australia Historic Memorials Collection

The Hon Sir Francis Gerard Brennan (1928-2022) was a Justice of the High Court from 12 February 1981 to 20 April 1995, and Chief Justice from 21 April 1995 to 21 May 1998. He was appointed a Justice of the Court of Final Appeal of Hong Kong in 2000. After graduating from the University of Queensland with a Bachelor of Applied Science and Law, he was admitted to the Queensland Bar in 1951. He was appointed a Queen's Counsel (QC) in 1965. He was a Judge of the Australian Industrial Court and Additional Judge of Supreme Court of Australian Capital Territory (1976–81); a Judge of the Federal Court of Australia (1977–81); President of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (1976–79); President of the Administrative Review Council (1976–79); a member of the Australian Law Reform Commission (1975–77); President of the Bar Association of Queensland (1974–76); President of the Australian Bar Association (1975–76); and a member of the executive of the Law Council of Australia (1974–76). He was appointed a Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (KBE) in 1981, and a Companion of the Order of Australia (AC) in 1988.

Former Chief Justices (further information)

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.