Rex Nan Kivell Collection

In 1974, after nearly 20 years of work and delays, the New Zealand-born, London-based collector Rex Nan Kivell (1898-1977) published a book of portraits of the ‘famous and infamous of Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific.’ The book was a maverick project spanning five centuries, the globe and the Pacific and features many compelling portraits acquired by Nan Kivell. His collection of ‘Australasian material’ is staggering in size and scope and was acquired by the Library in 1959.

The exhibition includes 50 portraits in watercolour and oils, as well as engravings and books, from Shakespeare to the notorious Tichborne Claimant, to Mai, a Polynesian voyager with Captain Cook. It explores the mind and obsessions of this fascinating collector, the notion of portraiture and many of the most notable names and artists of the past 500 years.

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Exhibition highlights