In May 2004 Dr Joseph Brown AO OBE donated the major part of his incomparable collection of Australian art to the National Gallery of Victoria — the most generous single gift of works of art ever made to a public gallery in Australia.
The Joseph Brown Collection at NGV Australia will forever tell the story of the immigrant who became an artist and soldier, a scholar and connoisseur, a successful businessman and an art dealer, a mentor to artists and an art patron; a man who made a huge and enduring difference to the culture of this country.
Joseph Brown was born in Poland in 1918 and migrated to Australia in 1933 at the age of fifteen, settling in Melbourne. He trained initially as an artist but after returning from war service in 1945 became increasingly involved in the fashion industry. Later he became a leading art dealer and consultant, promoting a wide range of Australian artists, both historical and contemporary. He reclaimed the work of forgotten artists, introduced and mentored many new artists, and was a great advocate for portraiture as an art form. Simultaneously he built up an outstanding private collection of Australian art.