Wednesday, 27 June 2012
Fitzgerald, Mr Paul, AM
On 1 August, Paul Fitzgerald AM turns 90 years of age. Paul is a giant of a man, a distinguished artist, a generous benefactor and a thoroughly decent human being. No other living Australian artist has painted more notables and nobles than Paul Fitzgerald. His works include three portraits of the Queen, one of which was the only official portrait in the Silver Jubilee year of 1977.
His other portraits include those of Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh; Charles, Prince of Wales; Pope John XXIII; two Australian governors-general; two Australian prime ministers, Sir Robert Menzies and Malcolm Fraser; six state governors; two state premiers, including Sir Henry Bolte; 14 Supreme Court judges; two cardinals, including Cardinal James Knox; four archbishops, including Daniel Mannix; Prince and Princess von Baden of Germany; King Hisamuddin of Malaysia; and the list goes on. In all, Paul has painted in over 15 countries around the world. One doubts there would be a more impressive list of portrait subjects anywhere in the world.
Paul's life is dotted with achievements which deserve to be retold. Born in Hawthorn, he was the second son of Frank Fitzgerald and Margaret nee Poynton. Frank was an art critic and journalist at the Argus and the Age and saw fit with Margaret to educate young Paul at an outstanding school in Kew, Xavier College. Paul's strong connection with Xavier continues to this day. Paul studied at the National Gallery School for five years in two stints, from 1940-43 and 1946-47, a period which was interrupted by three years of service in the Army during World War II. Paul founded the Australian Guild of Realists Artists, where he was president for seven years, and remains a life member of council.
He had seven children—Fabian, Marisa, Patrick, Emma, Edward, Maria and Frances—and was fortunate to celebrate his 55th wedding anniversary to Mary Fitzgerald, who is the sister of the late Lieutenant-Commander Michael Parker AO, former private secretary to the Queen and Prince Philip. Mary is a graduate of Genazzano, also in Kew, and had a distinguished career in her own right, having had been a successful actress and TV announcer and is known as the 'first lady of Australian television'.
I have been fortunate to get to know Paul over recent years and came to appreciate his deeply held values and ideals. I am very proud of what he has achieved over the years in his professional life as well as his lifelong connection with my electorate of Kooyong. Paul's significant contribution to the art world and the Australian community deserves to be acknowledged and celebrated. His legacy and his works are bound to live on for many, many more years to come. I wish Paul and his family continued good health and joy, and on behalf of a grateful community I say to you a very happy 90th birthday. May there be many more celebrations to come.