Historical information

This painting was created by Robert Dowling (1827-1886) in 1885. At this time Dowling was considered Australia's best portraitist. Dowling had been born in England, but migrated to Van Diemen's Land in the early 1830s with his parents. Dowling worked in both Tasmania and Victoria as an artist, before returning to England in 1857. He did not return to Australia until 1884 and received eighteen commissions for portraits. The Barry portrait was commissioned after Barry's death which explains some of the mistakes in the depiction of Barry's robes; the fur cuffs and collar are too large, and the cummerbund is sitting in the wrong place.

Sir Redmond Barry is an important figure in Colonial Victorian History, responsible for the establishment and support of some of our finest cultural institutions (the University of Melbourne, the State Library of Victoria, the Supreme Court Library, and aspects of the Museum of Victoria's collection). This is in addition to his role as barrister defending aborigines in the 1840s and his position as a foundation judge of the Supreme Court of Victoria, a position he held for nearly 30 years, presiding over two of the most well known of colonial trials: the Eureka Trials in 1854 and the Kelly trial in 1880.


The portrait of Sir Redmond Barry is significant because of the historical importance of Redmond Barry in colonial Victorian history. The painting is also of aesthetic significance as the work of the distinguished portraitist Robert Dowling.

Physical description

Portrait in oils of Sir Redmond Barry. Barry is depicted standing, dressed in red Judicial robes, his hand resting on a chair; behind is a table with books.

Inscriptions & markings

Signed and dated 1886 (lower left) by Robert Dowling.