Sidney Nolan 'Elephants and Gazelles'

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In 1962, Sidney Nolan was commissioned by a wealthy Kenyan businessman to paint Africa’s landscape, flying there with his second wife Cynthia Reed. Upon their meeting, he and the businessman – a “belligerent game hunter” – quickly fell out. Despite this, Nolan persisted, travelling to the Serengeti National Park where he found himself under the spell of Africa’s animals.

For Nolan, African animals presented an intriguing challenge. They were both striking and camouflaged, requiring a form of depiction that was “in a sense, a no-painting”. The original work on paper ‘Elephants and Gazelles’ (1963) comes from this impulse, presenting a herd of regal elephants and gazelles, almost indiscernible against Nolan’s wash of plum paint.

As Cynthia remembers, their days, “thronged by animals and birds, slid by.” When Nolan returned to Britain he exhibited the series at Marlborough Galleries to widespread acclaim; Francis Bacon and Albert Tucker expressed unrestrained support with Queen Elizabeth II and Kenneth Clarke purchasing works from the exhibition.

The animals in ‘Elephants and Gazelles’ slip between presence and invisibility, a spectre implicitly imbued with the threat of total disappearance: extinction. As Nolan stated, “the message will become fossilised as the species die out. One comes to view them as works which will not be repeated again.”

Boldly signed on the verso, ‘Elephants and Gazelles’ is a highly collectable and poetic work. For collectors of Nolan, images of animals and important Australian art, catch this work before it gallops away.

Sidney NOLAN (1917 - 1992)
'Elephants and Gazelles' 1963
Oil on paper
Image Size: 51 x 63 cm
Dimensions: 84 x 72 x 4 cm
Signed: Signed in purple lower right: Nolan; Signed, dated and titled on verso: Elephants and Gazelles / Nolan / 63
Comes with Letter of Provenance
Exhibited: African Paintings by Sidney Nolan, Bonython Art Gallery, Adelaide, 8 March 1964, cats. 22 and 23;
Sidney Nolan, An exhibition of paintings at the home of Dr and Mrs Keith Anderson, in conjunction with Australian Galleries, Melbourne, 3 October 1965, cat. 44 (as African Series, Elephant and Gazelles)
Australian Galleries sticker on verso; Bridget McDonnell Gallery sticker on verso; Deutscher and Hackett sticker on verso; AG Framers sticker on verso. 
Condition: Work is in Very Good condition; there are minor disruptions to the painted surface, reflective of Nolan's style and use of medium. Does not detract from the work's presence.
(c) Sidney Nolan / Copyright Agency