Portraits of Chief Justices and the first bench

  • Court 3
  • Brian DUNLOP
  • (1938–2009)
  • The Rt Hon Sir Garfield Barwick
  • 1976
  • oil on canvas
  • High Court of Australia Historic Memorials Collection

The Rt Hon Sir Garfield Edward John Barwick (1903–1997) was Chief Justice of the High Court 27 April 1964 to 11 February 1981 – the longest serving Chief Justice of Australia. He took an active interest in the design and construction of the High Court building that opened in Canberra in 1980. He was appointed a Privy Counsellor in 1964.

Garfield Barwick graduated from the University of Sydney with a Bachelor of Arts and university medal in law, and in 1927 was admitted to the NSW Bar. He was appointed a King's Counsel (KC) in 1941, a Knight Bachelor (Kt) in 1953, a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George (GCMG) in 1965, and in June 1981 a Knight of the Order of Australia (AK).

Garfield Barwick also pursued and attained leadership positions such as President of the Bar Association (1950–52 and 1955–56), President of the Law Council of Australia (1952–54), and first President of the Australian Conservation Foundation (1966). He also served in Federal Parliament. During his terms as a Member of the House of Representatives (1958–64), he served as Attorney-General (1958–63), and Minister for External Affairs (1961–64). He was a Judge ad hoc of the International Court of Justice 1973–74, and Chancellor of Macquarie University 1967–78.

Brian Dunlop's portrait of the Chief Justice shows him standing in his chambers dressed in robes but without his wig which is lying on top of the bookcase holding a set of legal tomes. It conveys an air of the authority of the subject.

Former Chief Justices (further information)

About the artist

  • Brian Dunlop was the son of English migrants who arrived in Australia during the Depression years. He enjoyed early success in his art career winning a scholarship to the National Art School, Sydney. His draughtsmanship was recognised in 1958 when at the age of 18 he won the Le Gay Brereton Prize for drawing, and four years later one of his drawings was purchased by the Art Gallery of New South Wales. He travelled in Italy, Greece, North Africa, Spain and England, became passionate about Renaissance art and also the light of Europe which is reflected in his light-filled interiors. Back in Australia, Dunlop taught at the East Sydney Technical College and then the Alexander Mackie College of Advanced Education. In 1980 he was artist-in-residence at the University of Melbourne, and also in 1980 he won the Sulman Prize for genre painting. As is often the case with artists who have a talent for portraiture, commissions allowed Dunlop to pursue his career as a full-time artist and to paint the things that really interested him, such as interiors with figures, and still-lifes.