Portrait Of Victoria Premier Lindsay Thompson

Portrait Of Victoria Premier Lindsay Thompson

Parliament Of Victoria

Lindsay Thompson Portrait

Victor P Taffa

On the resignation of Dick Hamer in June 1981, Lindsay Thompson became Premier and Treasurer of Victoria and served until April 1982, when Labor was elected to government.

Thompson had been a loyal Deputy Premier to Hamer from 1972. With his term as Premier lasting less than a year, Thompson is chiefly remembered for his record twelve-year term as Minister for Education, from 1967-79.

Education was significant factor in Thompson’s background. His maternal grandmother, Sarah Mills, was one of the first teachers to receive her training in Victoria, registering with the Board of Education in 1865. His mother, who was widowed when Thompson was two years old, was also a trained teacher. Thompson, born 15 October 1923 in Warburton, Victoria, attended Caulfield Grammar and matriculated dux of the school in 1940.

During the Second World War he served with the AIF in New Guinea from 1942 to 1945. On his return he studied History and Politics at the University of Melbourne, graduating with a B.A. and Diploma of Education in 1950. Thompson worked as a teacher for four years before entering politics in 1955.

He was elected MLC for Higinbotham and entered Cabinet the following year, serving a record twenty-six years. He rose quickly to significant positions, being appointed both Assistant Chief Secretary and Assistant Attorney General by 1958.

He resigned from the Legislative Council to successfully contest the Legislative Assembly seat of Malvern in May 1970.

While Education Minister in 1972 Thompson was faced with the kidnapping of six children and a teacher from the Faraday Primary School and a demand for a million dollar ransom to be delivered by Thompson himself. He did so without hesitation and the episode ended with the safe recovery of the hostages.

Although a sincere and competent politician, Thompson was unable to stem the tide against the Liberals in the 1982 elections when John Cain’s Labor government was swept to power with an overwhelming majority. Thompson’s Premiership ended twenty-seven years of Liberal party rule. He died on 16th July 2008.


History Of The Premiers Portraits

The Hon. Frederick Grimwade, President of the Legislative Council 1979-1985, initiated the idea of a portrait gallery for former Premiers of Victoria. He arranged for paintings to be commissioned from photographs of former non-living Premiers and life studies of living former Premiers.

Every Premier since 1933 (with the exception of Ian MacFarlan, who was Premier for 51 days) is represented in the portrait collection. Prior to this date there are portraits of only 4 former Premiers.

The portraits were originally displayed in the corridor leading to the Members Dining Room, appropriately named the ‘Premiers’ Corridor’.

Grimwade’s initiative was a success and eventually the collection of portraits grew so large that another space in the building had to be considered for their display.

In 2001, the year of the Centenary of Federation and Sesquicentenary of the Legislative Council, the portraits were moved to Queen’s Hall. In the Roman Revival style architecture of the lofty Hall, the group of portraits are positioned around a centrally placed marble statue of Queen Victoria.

There are currently 18 Premiers portraits in this collection. The 17 most recent are on display in Queen’s Hall, while the 1893 portrait of Premier James Paterson, the largest in the collection, hangs in Premiers’ Corridor.


Title                Premier Lindsay Thompson

Artist              Paul Fitzgerald

Date                1982

Medium          Oil on canvas

Dimensions     1270 x 990 x 80 mm

Description     Premier 5th June 1981 – 8 April 1982.

The Artist and the Portrait

Paul Desmond Fitzgerald 1922-

Fitzgerald is a noted Melbourne portrait painter whose commissions abroad include portraits of

  • Pope Pius XXIII,
  • King Hissamudden of Malaya,
  • Vivien Leigh,
  • H.M. Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip,
  • Official Jubilee Portrait of Queen Elizabeth for the Commonwealth (1977) which hangs in Marlborough House, London.

His portraits of three Victorian Governors:

  • Sir Rohan Delacombe,
  • Sir Henry Winneke,
  • Sir Brian Murray is among the numerous prominent Australians he has painted.

After completing his studies at the National Gallery Art School Fitzgerald spent eight years, from 1949 to 1957, living and painting in several countries including England, France, Italy, Spain, Malaya and America. He is the foundation council president of the Australian Guild of Realist Artists.

Working to his usual method, Fitzgerald had Lindsay Thompson sit five times for this portrait. Having previously considered a suitable background, he spent the first sitting deciding the pose. The next three sittings were devoted to painting the face. On the fifth and final sitting Fitzgerald concentrated on the hands. In all, the painting was completed in three weeks.

While the slender classical columns in the background are reminiscent of Renaissance classicism and suggestive of an architectural drawing, they in fact make a visual reference to Queens Hall in Parliament House. The backdrop makes for a pleasing contrast with the contemporary figure of Thompson, the modem politician, in his suit and tie.