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Earliest Portrait Painting of John Howard

In 1980 Josonia Palaitis entered her portrait of ex Prime Minister of Australia John Howard in the prestigious Archibald Prize.  The painting caused much comment as the public saw the then Federal Treasurer, always seen in a conservative suit, relaxing on a garden bench wearing shorts and sandals. 

'Mr Howard arrived for the sunday afternoon portrait sitting straight from a playing a game of tennis.  It was my only opportunity for taking photos,' the artist explained. 'Check shorts with paisley shirt! I pounced on the added opportunity to do something unexpected.' 

'I added the loud, almost vulgar brick background for more eye catching effect.  As a first time entrant in the Archibald Prize I knew I would have to grab the attention of the judges.  They select very few from hundreds of other portraits.' 

'Though the Howards have never expressed joy over this portrait they don't harbour a grudge.  In 2000 they chose me as the artist to paint the first double portrait for the National Portrait Gallery of an Australian Prime Minister and his wife.'  (See below)

Howard portrait paintings by Josonia Palaitis


John Howard, 1980                                          John Howard and Janette Howard, 2000


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