From one of Sydney’s earliest ‘selfies’, to the celebrity portrait which caused an unwitting hero to be chased down in Sydney’s street – these are just some of the fascinating stories covered in a new podcast that has recently launched.

“Portrait Detective” is a new podcast that is an initiative by Cassie Gilmartin (formerly Inside History magazine) in partnership with the State Library of NSW, Create NSW, and History Council New South Wales – where she dives into the image collections in the New South Wales State Library to discover the stories behind various iconic portraits from the 1800s found there.

Series 1 of the Portrait Detective podcast launched at the beginning of March 2021. So listen along and join Margot Riley, the State Library of NSW’s curator and dress historian, and Cassie Gilmartin, editor and publisher at Essex Street Media, as they journey back in time to discuss each portrait’s significance and how these images can help you learn more about the portraits in your own family history collection.

1 March – Episode 1: Convicts, colonials and the mysterious green umbrella: The costume of the Australasians, 1817
8 March – Episode 2: The selfie that’s 184 years old: Mary Ellen Betts, 1837
15 March – Episode 3: The rare family portrait from 1854: George Walker Johnson and his young family
22 March – Episode 4: Two sisters, the mutiny and a happy snap from 1857
29 March – Episode 5: Sydney’s accidental celebrity: James Johnson, 1857
5 April – Episode 6: Parramatta’s fashionable lady, 1865

The podcast is available now via Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify and And so you can follow along, you can see each image that is being discussed in the different episodes, displayed on the Portait Detective podcast page (just scroll down a bit).

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