Portrait Of Victoria Premier Harry Lawson

Portrait Of Victoria Premier Harry Lawson

Parliament Of Victoria

Harry Lawson Portrait

Victor P Taffa

Sir Harry Sutherland Wightman Lawson was born on 5 March 1875 at Dunolly, Victoria and was educated at Castlemaine Grammar School and Scotch College.

A prominent figure in the Castlemaine community, Lawson was elected to the Castlemaine Borough Council in 1898 and in January 1900 at age 24, won the Castlemaine by-election for the Legislative Assembly.

Re-elected for Castlemaine and Maldon in 1904, Lawson continued in local politics as mayor of Castlemaine in 1905-1906 finally retiring from the Council in 1915.

In the Legislative Assembly, Lawson served as the President of the Board of Works and Commissioner of Crown Lands and Survey 1913-1915, and the Attorney-General, Solicitor-General and Minister Public Instruction 1915-1917.

When Sir John Bowser resigned as Premier in March 1918, Lawson became leader of the National Party and Premier.

After the 1920 Election, Lawson was dependant on the support of the Country Party, and by 1923 was forced to govern with a combined National-Country Party ministry. In April 1924 he resigned as Premier, continuing to serve as member for Castlemaine and Kyneton until October 1928.

Sir Harry Lawson’s achievements as premier include formation of the Melbourne and Metropolitan Tramways Board, the Forest Commission, Charities Board, and the State Electricity Commission. On retiring from Victorian Parliament, he was elected to the federal senate where he served from 1928 to 1934. Harry Lawson died at East Melbourne on 12 June 1952.


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 Harry Lawson

Artist  John Perry, after John Longstaff

Date                 1981

Medium          Oil on canvas

Dimensions     1120 x 940 x 60 mm

Description     Premier 21st March 1918 – 28th April 1924

This copy of ‘Portrait of Sir Harry Lawson’ 1923 by John Longstaff (original held at Castlemaine Art Gallery and Historical Museum) was presented to the Parliament of Victoria by the Lawson Family and the Perpetual Executors and Trustees Association of Australia Ltd in 1981.