Portrait of archbishop unveiled

The unveiling of a portrait of Archbishop Denis Hart at Drake House on ACU’s Melbourne Campus on 13 December marks the latest addition to the ACU Art Collection.

The painting honours the recently retired Archbishop of Melbourne, who has been a positive supporter and guide to the university for many years.

Ordained at St Patrick's Cathedral, Melbourne in July 1967, Archbishop Hart served as a hospital chaplain, an assistant parish priest and then master of ceremonies at St Patrick's Cathedral. He was liturgy director and assistant master of ceremonies for the 1986 Papal visit to Australia.  In 1987, he became a parish priest and in 1996 he became Vicar General and Moderator of the curia.  He has served in the parishes of North Balwyn, North Richmond and West Brunswick.  In 1997, he was consecrated a bishop and made an auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of Melbourne.

During 2001, he was appointed Archbishop of Melbourne and he received the pallium from Pope John Paul II in St Peter's Square.   He was appointed a member of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments and served as Archbishop of Melbourne until his retirement in 2018.

The portrait

The commissioned painting was undertaken by renowned artist Jiawei Shen, who painted the portrait at Drake House over two half-day sittings.  The first sitting commenced in February 2019 and two preliminary sketches for the portrait were made, which have since been donated to the ACU Art Collection by the artist.  The final sitting took place in October 2019.

“The portrait is a compelling, highly detailed representation of the Archbishop, largely due to Jiawei Shen’s treatment of the sitter,” ACU Art Curator Caroline Field said.

“His Grace’s partially-shadowed face, direct eye-contact and characteristic hand gesture provides the viewer with key information. The artist has really captured the ‘humanity and living spirit’ of the person. We are very fortunate to represent this fine work within the university art collection.”

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