Carlton, Victoria, Australia 1917 – London, England 1992
(Ned Kelly riding a horse).
Collection Title: Nolan, Sidney. The river bend series. Sydney: Pot Still Press, 1981
Materials & Technique: prints, ink; paper photo-offset lithogaph, printed in colour Support: paper
Sidney Nolan’s 1946–47 Ned Kelly series is one of the greatest sequences of Australian paintings of the 20th century: Nolan’s starkly simplified depiction of Kelly in his armour has become an iconic Australian image.
Nolan’s paintings follow the main sequence of the Kelly story. Yet Nolan did not intend the series to be an ‘authentic’ depiction of these events. Rather, these episodes became the setting for the artist’s meditations upon universal themes of injustice, love and betrayal.
The Kelly saga was also a way for Nolan to paint the Australian landscape in new ways, with the story giving meaning to the place. Above all, he considered that it was ‘a story arising out of the bush and ending in the bush’.
Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra