An image of Sarah Bernhardt

Bertram Mackennal

(Australia, England, France 12 Jun 1863 – 10 Oct 1931)

Sarah Bernhardt

Not on display
Further information

After six years studying sculpture in Paris and London, Mackennal returned to Australia in 1888 to execute two commissions. He became the centre of controversy in Melbourne over the worthiness of his entry in a competition for a major bronze figure group to be placed outside the National Gallery of Victoria. Debate raged in the press and came to the attention of Sarah Bernhardt, then established as the world's greatest living actress. She recommended that Mackennal return to Paris as "he is buried alive here". Mackennal was to become good friends with Bernhardt, who toured Australia in 1891, and taking her advice he returned to Paris, where he completed her relief portrait in bronze.

Australian Art Department, AGNSW, 2000

(circa 1892-circa 1893)
bronze relief
43.2 x 40.6 x 2.2 cm
Signature & date

Signed l.l. corner, incised "Bertram Mackennal". Not dated

Bequest of Mrs J.R. McGregor 1944
Accession number