Behind the Story


...what news he was breaking?


The old miner breaks the unbearable news to the young mother of four that her husband will never again return home due to a horrific mining accident.  The accident happened around midnight and the news was broken in the early hours of the morning, as indicated by the clock on the mantelpiece and the glimpse of dawn light visible through the opening door.  Mining practices in Australia were changed after a coroner’s report on this incident.

The artist, Sir John Longstaff studied at the National Gallery of Victoria art school from 1882 and then won the school’s first traveling scholarship with ‘Breaking the News’ in 1887, which took him to European shores.  Returning to Australia in 1895 he designed advertisements for a living until he established a portraiture practice.   After many successful commissions, including King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra, John Longstaff served as an official war artist with the Australian Imperial Force, won the Archibald prize for portraiture five times and was knighted in 1928.

John Longstaff

Breaking the news


oil on canvas

109.7 x 152.8 cm

State Art Collection, Art Gallery of Western Australia

Purchased with funds from the Hackett Bequest Fund, 1933















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