Cole, Tennyson (1862-1939; English)
The Hon.Duncan Gillies 1891
Oil on canvas, 56.0 x 31.0 cm
Presented by subscribers, 1891; transferred to the SLV from the NGV, c.1951
State Library of Victoria (H141878)  

[reproduction: view of the work as shown in a photo by Nicholas Caire, 1891]

Scottish-born Gillies (1834-1903) came to Victoria at the age of 18. After some success on the Ballarat gold-fields, he was elected to the Victorian Parliament in 1861, and was Minister for Lands in the government of James Service (see Folingsby (G.) James Service 1886 {1886} SLV [PA]). He succeeded Service as Victorian Premier in 1886, but lost office four years later as a result of the financial recession.

Cole, also called Philip Tennyson Cole in some sources, worked in Australia (1889-93) and then South Africa (c.1896-1900), before returning to England, where he became a sought-after society and royal portraitist. His portrait of Gillies, reproduced in NGV 1905, also appears prominently in a photograph of Cole’s South Yarra studios in 1891, taken by Nicholas Caire (1837-1918): detail shown here.


AR 1891, p.26; NGV 1894, p.p.121 (V.Buvelot Gallery, 6th bay, no.15); NGV 1905, p.144 (V.Buvelot Gallery, 7th bay, no.2; ill.) 

The SLV catalogue lacks a photo (the work is currently in storage and cannot be photographed); however, my thanks to Gerard Hayes for drawing my attention to the library’s copy of Caire’s photo of Cole’s studios (acquired in 2014: H2014.1113)

For Cole, see Bénézit 3, p.1210 and AKL20 (1998), p.227 (both listing the present work); see also, and 

For Gillies, see (biography by Margot Beever, published in ADB vol.4, 1972); and