The portrait was commissioned by Mr Robert Cripps as a tribute to Dr Burge's leadership as Warden, and for his efforts in persuading a cautious Council to accept the generosity of the donor who, on behalf of his family, had offered to restore the fabric of the Horsfall Chapel. In true philanthropic spirit, Cripps also saw it as an opportunity to support an up-andcoming artist whose work he admired.
The portrait is the earlier of two portraits of Dr Burge, fifth Warden of Trinity College. The later portrait is by Clifton Pugh. Dr Burge recalls that sitting for David Thomas was a very different experience from being painted by Pugh. Thomas adopted a highly ordered approach, taking photographs and making sketches at each sitting but never painting in the presence of the sitter. His work testifies to an interest in realist detail. At the time, Thomas was to some degree influenced by Brian Dunlop. He seemed to take a particular interest in Dr Burge's brown shoes, which the Warden remembered wearing frequently during that period. They are given an unusual prominence in this portrait.
One of the most notable features of the portrait is the large shadow cast behind the sitter. Thomas experimented with various lamps during the process and was intrigued by the shadows they cast and the symbolism they suggested. The large shadow in this portrait, which is not at ail realistic, suggests an enhanced presence. It is not the presence so much of the individual, but more an allusion to the authority of Burge's role as Warden.
In appointing Dr Evan Burge as its fifth Warden, the College was once again presided over by a Classics scholar. He came to Trinity College at the begining of June, 1974. Previously he had been lecturer and then senior lecturer in Classics at the Australian National University. His first degree in Classics was from the University of Queensland, from which he graduated with First Class Honours and a University Medal in 1956, and was awarded a Queensland Government Travelling Scholarship to Balliol College, Oxford. Two years later, he graduated with First Class Honours in Literae Humaniores ("Greats"). While in Oxford, he married a Queensland medical graduate. Dr Barbara Payne. By the time they came to the Warden's Lodge in Trinity, they had six children, three boys and three girls. His success at Oxford led to his appointment to the Canberra University College, later the School of General Studies at the Australian National University. While a lecturer in Canberra, he studied, during two periods of leave, under Professor Gregory Vlastos in the Classical Philosophy Programme at Princeton University, New Jersey, and was awarded his Ph.D. in 1969 for a thesis on Plato and Causality.
In Canberra, Dr Burge was ordained as honorary deacon of the Anglican Church by Bishop Ernest Burgmann in 1960 and as Priest in 1 971. He became deeply involved in writing liturgies during this period and in 1 970 was appointed a member of the national Anglican Liturgical Commission. He was responsible for drafting the widely used second order for the Holy Communion in An Australian Prayer Book (1978) and for the Collects in A Prayer Book for Australia (1995). At the same time he always retained his admiration and affection for The Book of Common Prayer.
As Warden of Trinity, Dr Burge saw many changes, especially the introduction of women to co-residence in 1974, following decisions in principle taken in Professor Sharwood's last year. The incorporation of the College by Act of Parliament in 1979, the establishment of the Trinity College Foundation in 1983, and of the Trinity Foundation Studies Program for overseas students in 1989, and the adoption of a major Strategy Plan in 1994 were other important changes. The cultural life of the College was a special concern of his, especially the establishment of the Trinity College Choir in 1975 and the gradual improvement in the standard of production of Trinity plays and musicals. Dr Burge also had oversight of the formation of the Art Committee and the E.R. White Club following the contentious sale of the John Brack painting, The Breakfast Table in 1989.
A new building, named the Evan Burge Building, was opened on 19 April, 1996, by Sir Ninian Stephen. Containing teaching rooms, a lecture theatre and a magnificent library area which houses the Leeper and Mollison libraries on the upper level, it stands as his permanent memorial within Trinity. This would not have been possible without the Trinity Foundation Studies Program and the Trinity College Foundation and the many people who worked tirelessly for them. He retired on 30 September, 1997, and was made a Fellow in November, 1997. The sixth Warden, Professor Donald Markwell, was installed on 15 September, 1997.
Provenance: Commissioned by Mr Robert Cripps in 1984