Portraits of Chief Justices and the first bench

  • Court 2
  • (1894 -1983)
  • Sir Owen Dixon
  • 1955
  • oil on canvas
  • High Court of Australia Historic Memorials Collection

The Rt Hon Sir Owen Dixon (1886–1972) was a Justice of the High Court from 4 February 1929 to 17 April 1952, and Chief Justice from 18 April 1952 to 13 April 1964. He had been appointed an acting Judge of the Supreme Court of Victoria in 1926. After graduating from the University of Melbourne with a Master of Arts and a Bachelor of Laws degree, he was admitted to the Victorian Bar in 1910, and appointed a King's Counsel (KC) in 1922. During World War II, Justice Dixon accepted several federal government appointments, including chair of several wartime committees. He took leave from the Court to serve as Australian Minister to Washington (1942–44), and he was appointed a United Nations mediator in the Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan in 1950.

Owen Dixon's civil honours include appointment as a Knight Commander (KCMG) in 1941, a Privy Counsellor (PC) in 1951, the Grand Cross of St Michael and St George (GCMG) in 1954, and an Order of Merit (OM) in 1963. He was awarded an honorary Doctorate in Civil Law (Hon DCL) from Oxford University, and honorary Doctorates in Law (Hon LLD) from Harvard, the Australian National University and Melbourne University. He was awarded the Henry E Howland Memorial Prize at Yale University.

Former Chief Justices (further information)

About the artist

  • Archibald Douglas (better known as Archie or AD) Colquhoun grew up in Melbourne, the son of artists. He studied at the National Gallery of Victoria but left to become a staff artist with The Herald. He later studied with Max Meldrum whose theory on colour and tone was a major influence. In the mid 1920s Colquhoun travelled, studied and exhibited in Europe and England, but returned to Melbourne in 1926 to open a studio and art school. He was an influential teacher and a dedicated painter, winning the Crouch prize in 1933 and the Newman prize for Australian historical painting in 1934. Colquhoun spent some time working and exhibiting in England with his artist wife, Amalie Field, but in 1937 they resumed teaching and painting in Melbourne. The portraiture component of their practices expanded and as Amalie focused on portraits of children, Colquhoun was increasingly called upon to paint prominent personalities. Some of his other well known portraits are of Prime Minister Ben Chifley, and the Archbishop of Brisbane, (Sir) James Duhig.