Julia Gillard's Contemporary Spin On The Prime Minister's Portrait

Although most Australians never gain exclusive access to the inner thoughts and motives of a Prime Minister, there is always one picture that is worth a thousand words.

The official portrait of Australia's 27th Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, was unveiled at Parliament House on Wednesday.

In her speech, Gillard thanked former Prime Minister Tony Abbott before cheekily labelling Bill Shorten as Australia's next leader.

Although unable to express her achievements as Prime Minister in a single portrait, Gillard emphasised she was different to every other Prime Minister who came before her.

With that in mind, artist Vincent Fantauzzo diverted from Gillard's  predecessors, capturing the former Labor leader in what is already being hailed as one of the best portraits of its type to hang in parliament.

So how much have our Prime Ministers' portraits changed since federation?

READ MORE: We're All Entitled To A Portrait Of The Queen!

1. Sir Edmund Barton (in office January 1901- September 1903)

As leader of the federation movement, Edmund Barton became Australia's first Prime Minister in 1901, after a distinguished career in New South Wales parliament. His formalised, professional position in the portrait would set the tone for future Prime Ministers.

Artist: Norman St Clair Carter

2. Alfred Deakin (in office September 1903-April 1904; then July 1905-November 1908; then June 1909-April 1910)

Artist: Frederick McCubbin

3. John Christian (Chris) Watson (in office April-August 1904)

There were a lot of firsts for Chris Watson. Although now placing towards the bottom in terms of overall tenure (just 113 days), he was Australia's first ever Labor Prime Minister, and the youngest to ever to set foot in office at age 37.

Artist: Sir John Longstaff

4. Sir George Houstoun Reid (in office August 1904-July 1905)

George Reid's portrait was the first to break away from the traditional standing position that other Prime Ministers had adopted. The former barrister was also the first to include an item of significance in his portrait, which led many other leaders to copy him over the years.

Artist: Sir John Longstaff

5. Andrew Fisher (in office November 1908-June 1909; then April 1910-June 1913; then September 1914-October 1915)

Artist: Emmanuel Phillips Fox

6. Sir Joseph Cook (in office June 1913-September 1914)

Artist: Norman St Clair Carter

7. William Morris (Billy) Hughes (in office October 1915-February 1923)

William Hughes is still Australia's longest serving member of the House of Representatives (51 years, seven months). He was the Prime Minister to experiment with brighter colours in his portrait. The stark blue background became his signature among other Prime Ministers' portraits.

Artist: George Washington Lambert

8. Stanley Melbourne Bruce (in office February 1923-October 1929)

Also adopting a completely different stance was Stanley Bruce. Sitting side on, Mr Bruce faces away from the artist reflecting on a more traditional technique in capturing an image. To this day, no other politician has faced further away from the artist than Bruce.

Artist: William Beckwith McInnes

9. James Henry Scullin (in office October 1929-January 1932)

Artist: William Beckwith McInnes

10. Joseph Aloysius Lyons (in office January 1932-April 1939)

Artist: William Beckwith McInnes

11. Sir Earle Christmas Grafton Page (in office April 1939)

Artist: William Beckwith McInnes

12. Sir Robert Gordon Menzies (in office April 1939-1941; then December 1949-January 1966(

Artist: Sir Ivor Henry Hele

13. Sir Arthur William Fadden (in office August-October 1941)

Artist: Sir William Alexander Dargie

14. John Joseph Ambrose Curtin (in office October 1941-July 1945)

Artist: Anthony Dattilo-Rubbo

15. Francis (Frank) Michael Forde (in office July 1945)

It was perhaps one of the strangest terms in office from any Prime Minister. Although he got a portrait on the wall, Frank Forde was Australia's leader for just eight days, following the death of his predecessor John Curtin.

Forde was thrown out of the position by fellow Labor Leader, Ben Chifley, who was sworn in as Prime Minister the following week. Australia had gone through three Prime Ministers in nine days. Almost as bad as today's federal politicians...

Artist: Joshua Smith

16. Joseph Benedict (Ben) Chifley (in office July 1945-December 1949)

Artist: Archibald Douglas Colquhoun

17. Harold Edward Holt (in office January 1966-December 1967)

Harold Holt's time as leader was one of huge highs and lows. His government was a driver of cultural change in Australia, supporting the 1967 referendum to recognise Indigenous Australians, relaxing the restrictive laws around immigration and increasing commitment to the Vietnam War.

Holt mysteriously disappeared in December 1967, whilst swimming at Portsea Beach in Victoria. Although never found, conspiracy theorists have speculated he is still alive, whilst Police pronounced him dead two days later. Although he probably never contributed to the design of his portrait, it is noticeably colourful. There might also be greater significance behind Holt staring into the distance instead of facing the artist.

Artist: William Edwin Pidgeon

18. Sir John McEwen (in office December 1967-January 1968)

Artist: Sir William Alexander Dargie

19. Sir John Grey Gorton (in office January 1968-March 1971)

Similar to the Curtin-Forde-Chifley saga, it was the Liberals' turn to turnover Prime Ministers like days of the week. After just 23 days in office, John McEwen was replaced by John Gorton. Gorton is the only who has Prime Minister worn causal clothing in his portrait.

Looking away from the artist and leaning against his desk most likely emphasises his relaxed, care-free approach following politics, considering he was thrown out of office by a 'no-confidence' vote.

Maybe we'll see something similar with Malcolm Turnbull's portrait in the years to come?

Artist: June Mendoza

20. Sir William (Billy) McMahon (in office March 1971-December 1972)

Artist: Sir Ivor Henry Hele

21. Edward Gough Whitlam (in office December 1972-November 1975)

Perhaps the most famous and controversial leader Australia has ever seen, Gough Whitlam's portrait makes everything even stranger. Despite ending Australia's commitment to the Vietnam War and introducing free universal education, Whitlam's government was dismissed, in spectacular fashion, by the Governor General, Sir John Kerr.

Whitlam's portrait was one of the few portraits that was not generated through the official commissioning process. The artwork was painted by one of Whitlam's close friends and was bought by the commission at the request of the former Prime Minister after it won the Archibald Prize in 1972.

Artist: Clifton Ernest Pugh

22. John Malcolm Fraser (in office November 1975-March 1983)

Artist: Sir Ivor Henry Hele

23. Robert (Bob) James Lee Hawke (in office March 1983-December 1991)

After winning the 1983 election, Bob Hawke became one of Australia's longest serving Prime Ministers, with an eight year reign between 1983 and 1991. Hawke focused on re-developing the Australian economy through his reforms, industrial relations and globalisation. His portrait was similar to earlier politicians, who adopted a serious, formal tone.

Artist: William (Bill) Leak

24.  Paul John Keating (in office December 1991-March 1996)

Artist: Robert Lyall Hannaford

25. John Winston Howard (in office March 1996-December 2007)

Artist: Jiawei Shen

27. Julia Gillard (in office June 2010-June 2013)

As Australia's first female Prime Minister, Julia Gillard decided to mix things up even more with her portrait. Unlike any of her predecessors, the close up portrait highlights Gillard's finer aspects and will be a refreshing addition to the members hall.

Artist: Vincent Fantauzzo, Image Source: AAP

READ MORE: Julia Gillard - Australia's 27th PM

READ MORE: How To Get Your Free Portrait Of The Queen

Although being out of the Prime Minister's office for a number of years, both Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott are yet to reveal their Prime Minister portraits -- so it may be some time still before we see portraits of Malcolm Turnbull and Scott Morrison hanging on the walls of parliament.