Portrait Of Victoria Premier Stanley Argyle

Portrait Of Victoria Premier Stanley Argyle

Parliament Of Victoria

Stanley Argyle Portrait

Victor P Taffa

Sir Stanley Seymour Argyle was born on the 4 December 1867 at Kyneton, Victoria. He studied medicine and bacteriology at the University of Melbourne and Kings College, London, and on returning to Australia set up as a general practitioner. In 1898 was elected to the Kew local council, serving as Mayor from 1903 to 1905.

Before embarking on a career as a state politician, Argyle distinguished himself in the emerging field of radiology at the Alfred Hospital and in military hospitals during the First World War. He was elected to the council of the Victorian Branch of the British Medical Association in 1918, and was its Vice-President in 1923, 1924 and President in 1925.

In October 1920 Argyle was elected to the Legislative Assembly in the seat of Toorak. He was appointed Chief Secretary and Minister of Public Health intermittently during conservative governments of 1923 – 1924, 1924-1927 and 1928 -1929.

He was knighted in 1930 and later that year was chosen to lead the United Australia Party (UAP) in opposition.

Arguing for lessening expenditure, taxation reform and the creation of sustenance work for the employed, a UAP – Country Party coalition was elected to government in May 1932 with Argyle as Premier, Treasurer and Minister for Health.

As Premier, Argyle adopted these and other measures in a concerted effort to combat the worsening economic crisis. The Transport Regulation Act and Closer Settlement Act were also notable reforms during of the Argyle government.

Construction projects, such as the beautification of the Domain and construction of the Yarra Boulevard in connection with Centenary of Victoria and Melbourne Celebrations of 1934-1935, and the provision of additional Melbourne parklands were also significant outcomes of Argyle’s term as Premier.

At the election in 1935, the Country party withdrew support from Argyle’s UAP; its leader Albert Dunstan forming government in a Labor Party coalition. Sir Stanley Argyle once again became leader of the opposition, a position which he held until his death on the 23 November 1940.


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 Stanley Argyle

Artist              Nell Govett

Date                1931-2

Medium          Oil on canvas

Dimensions     1050 x 840 x 30 mm

Description     Premier 19th May 1932 – 2nd April 1935

This portrait by artist Nell (Helena) Govett (b.1882 – d.1965) was a finalist in the 1932 Archibald Prize.