Duncan Gillies portrait

Duncan Gillies, premier 1886-90

Premier Duncan Gillies


Josephine Muntz-Adams


ca. 1897


Oil on canvas

1596 x 1320 x 15 mm
Premier 18th February 1886 – 5th November 1890

Duncan Gillies (1834-1903) was born near Glasgow, Scotland and migrated to Victoria in 1852.

Gillies was elected to the Legislative Assembly in 1860 for the seat of Ballarat West. Losing his seat in an 1868 by-election, he was re-elected two years later for Maryborough. Serving as commissioner for railways and roads and later minister for lands, Gillies was controversially forced to contest two elections for the seat of Rodney, in May and November of 1877, after accusations the lands department had applied undue influence in the May 1877 campaign.

In 1886, after almost a decade of service as minister and shadow minister for railways, Gillies became Premier in a coalition government with Alfred Deakin. Governing at the height of the Victorian economic boom, the coalition was re-elected in 1889. The subsequent 1890s depression diminished Gillies’ personal fortune and his capacity to govern, and the government was defeated by a motion of no confidence in October 1890.

Duncan Gillies left parliament in 1893, accepting the post of Agent-General in London. Returning to Victoria in 1897,Gillies contested and won the seat of Toorak in the Legislative Assembly. Elected as Speaker in 1902, his health began to fail and on the 12 September 1903 Gillies died at the Victorian Parliament House (Exhibition Building) aged 69.

Born at Barfold near Kyneton, Josephine Muntz (b.1862 d.1949) studied art extensively in Australia, France and England, exhibiting at the Paris Salon. This portrait of Duncan Gillies was painted sometime before her marriage to Samuel Adams in 1898 and unusually bears two signatures - that of ‘Josephine Muntz’ and ‘Josephine Muntz Adams’. It was exhibited in the Victorian Court of the 1899 Greater Britain Exhibition in London and was awarded the equivalent of a gold medal. The portrait was unveiled in the Library of Parliament House on the 26th of June 1906.



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