Historical information

Correspondence held by the library has John Denniston Wood (1829-1914), a barrister and politician, presenting the portrait to the Library Committee in 1867. Wood hopes that the painting will "hang there [in the Court] in like manner as the portraits of many of the sages of the law are held in the Courts at Guildhall". Wood also provides information about the painter, Mr Mosely "now deceased", but who was "selected by Sir WIlliam himself" to undertake the commission.
Early accounts have the painting hanging in a prominent position in the 'old' Court house at La Trobe and Russell Streets; the portrait was moved down to the library in 1884, when the portraits of Barry, Stawell and Molesworth were also commissioned.
Sir William a'Beckett was the first chief justice of the colony of Victoria, having previously had a busy career at the Sydney bar.


The portrait is of historic signifcance because of its subject Sir William a'Beckett and its long association with the Court.

Physical description

A full length portrait of Sir William a'Beckett, seated and dressed in his judicial robes. With ornate gold frame with acorn motif.

Inscriptions & markings

Plaque identifying subject : Sir William a'Beckett, Knight, resident judge of the Supreme Court of New South Wales for the district of Port Phillip from 1846 to 1852, First Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Victoria from Jan.1852 to Feb 1857.