Portrait of James Oddie, founder of the Art Gallery of Ballarat, E. Goodwyn Lewis
  • Artist
    E. Goodwyn Lewis
  • Born
    1827
  • Died
    1891
  • Title
    Portrait of James Oddie, founder of the Art Gallery of Ballarat
  • Date of Production
    1884
  • Medium
    oil on canvas
  • Dimensions
    113.2 x 87.0 cm
  • Credit Details
    Purchased, 1887

E. Goodwyn Lewis

Portrait of James Oddie, founder of the Art Gallery of Ballarat

E. Goodwyn Lewis came to Melbourne in 1880 and spent three years working from a studio at 105A Collins Street, during which time it is likely that succesful  Ballarat businessman James Oddie made his acquaintance.  Oddie acquired A street in Jerusalem  which he gave to the Gallery in 1885, during the artist's stay in Melbourne.  This portrait was painted after the artist had returned to England,   while Oddie himself was travelling in his homeland.

The portrait, purchased by the Gallery in 1887, shows the founding member and  first President of the Art Gallery of Ballarat, standing beside a table with his hand resting on an early 'Tangent Galvanometer' - a device used for measuring electrical current.  It is curious that Oddie chose this object with which to be associated in this  portrait destined for the Gallery, rather than emphasising some aspect of his cultural interests.  A strong advocate for the use of electricity, Oddie had wanted to install electric lighting in the Gallery  - even at his own cost - but had been blocked by the other more conservative members of  the committee of the Art Gallery of Ballarat  Association.