Portrait of a child (member of the Robertson family)

Unknowncirca 1861

National Portrait Gallery

National Portrait Gallery
Canberra, Australia

This work is one of six photographs donated to the National Portrait Gallery in 2011 by the descendants of William Robertson (1798–1874), a key player in the settlement of Victoria in the 1830s. A farmer’s son, Robertson came to Van Diemen’s Land in 1822 and took up land before going into business with his brothers in an emporium in Hobart. In September 1834, he married Margaret Whyte (1811–1866), the daughter of fellow Scottish settlers. In 1835, Robertson joined a number of other investors in a scheme to expand pastoral activities into the Port Phillip district. Over the course of the next decade, he became a major landholder in the new colony, with substantial holdings in the area around Colac. He oversaw the operation of his pastoral empire from his Hobart home until 1852 and settled permanently at his Victorian property, Corangamarah, later called The Hill, in the early 1860s.

The group of donated Robertson family photographs includes hand-coloured daguerreotypes of William and Margaret, and of their second eldest son, William junior (1839–1892). Also in the group are three ambrotypes: a portrait of Margaret; and two others that were previously thought to have been a portrait of Margaret with one of her children, and this work – a smaller, individual portrait of the same child, who appears in both photographs to be no more than three years old. Ambrotypes, however, were not available in Australia prior to 1854, six years after the birth of William and Margaret’s youngest child. This would indicate that the child depicted here may be one of the Robertson grandchildren and dates from the early 1860s.


  • Title: Portrait of a child (member of the Robertson family)
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Creator Lifespan: date unknown - date unknown
  • Creator Gender: Unknown
  • Date Created: circa 1861
  • Physical Dimensions: w8.2 x h9.5 cm (Object)
  • Provenance: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra. Gift of Fiona Turner (née Robertson) and John Robertson 2011 Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program.
  • Type: Photography
  • External Link: Further information
  • Rights: National Portrait Gallery, Canberra

Get the app

Explore museums and play with Art Transfer, Pocket Galleries, Art Selfie, and more

Flash this QR Code to get the app
Google apps