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When Sidney Nolan first encountered Ned Kelly, he read everything he could about the outlaw from letters, books and articles, to court manuscripts. In stitching together history, Nolan recognised a tragic figure — a doomed outsider, mythologised in the Australian imagination and a surrogate for the artist’s own feelings of alienation and betrayal. Kelly would haunt Nolan for the rest of his life; he “is the millstone around my neck”, Nolan once recounted.
In 1961 Nolan produced ‘Kelly and Horse’, an elegant iteration of the motif. It was part of a small series of works he envisioned being carved on onyx or jasper, but never did. Yet, there remains a mineralised quality to ‘Kelly and Horse’ — like a granite rock formation, Kelly becomes genetic to the Australian landscape.
Nolan is considered among Australia’s greatest artists. He is represented in every state gallery and internationally at New York’s Museum of Modern Art and London’s Tate. Nolan’s Ned Kelly changed the course of Australian art history. When the series was exhibited at France’s Musee National d’Art Moderne in the late 1940s, the Museum Director described it as the “wonder of something new being born”.
Abstracted, enigmatic and iconic, this beautifully framed work is a major find for collectors of Modern art. It is signed on the verso and dedicated to Cynthia Nolan — the famed Modernist poet and Nolan's beloved second wife.
Sidney NOLAN (1917 - 1992)'Kelly and Horse' 1961Mixed media on paperImage Size: 63 x 52 cm Dimensions: 87 x 63 x 4 cm Signed: Signed and dated verso 2 / 1 / 61 Nolan. Inscribed Cynthia xxxxComes with Letter of Provenance© Sidney Nolan / Copyright Agency 2022
In 1961 Nolan produced a small series of Kelly works that he envisaged being carved in onyx or jasper.Condition: Excellent © Sidney Nolan / Copyright Agency 2022
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