Historical information

This painting was presented to the library in December 1930. The painting had been paid for through subscription from Judges of the High Court, the Supreme Court and the County Court as well as both branches of the legal profession. An almost identical portrait is held by both the Melbourne Cricket Club and the National Gallery of Victoria.


This portrait is of interest for its subject and artist. Sir Leo Cussen (1859-1933) is probably best known for his role in two consolidations of the Victorian Statute books in 1915 and the mid 1920s. These were immense undertakings and included determining the application of English Law in Victoria. Sir Leo was appointed at Surpem Court Judge in 1906, he was at various times Acting Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Victoria. In addition, he was trustee of both the Art Gallery (NGV) and the Melbourne Cricket Club, and held various positions with the Melbourne University Law Faculty and the Council of Legal Education. Sir Leo was regarded as one of the finest legal minds of his generation and at his death, Robert Menzies, at this time the Attorney General, said that Sir Leo was "one of the great lawyers of the english speaking world".
Sir John Longstaff was one of Australia's best known and well regarded portraitist in the early 20th Century, he won the Archibald prize five times (1925, 1928, 1929, 1931 and 1935).

Physical description

3/4 Lenght portrait in Oils of Sir Leo Cussen, a judge of the Supreme Court, 1906-1933. Cusen is seated, a desk to the right of the picture with a few books. Sir Leo is in a 3 piece suit, his watch chain visible. Gold Frame

Inscriptions & markings

Signed Longstaff in upper left corner. Plaque stating "the Hon Sir Leo Finn Bernard Cussen Kt Judge of the Supreme Court 1906-1933