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Collection

An image of recto: Study for 'Drought' series
verso: (related doodles) by Russell Drysdale

Russell Drysdale

(England, Australia 07 Feb 1912 – 29 Jun 1981)

Title
recto: Study for 'Drought' series verso: (related doodles)
Other titles:
recto: Study for Drought Series
Year
1945
Media category
Drawing
Materials used
pencil on ivory machine wove paper
Dimensions

18.5 x 25.2 cm sheet

Signature & date
Signed and dated l.r., pencil "Russell Drysdale/ 45".
Credit
Purchased 1981
Accession number
121.1981
Copyright
© Reproduced with permission
Location
20th & 21st c Australian art
Further information

This drawing is related to Drysdale's major painting 'Walls of China', also in the Art Gallery of New South Wales collection. It arose out of Drysdale's journey in 1944 through the drought-stricken inland of western New South Wales. A series of dry seasons had culminated in a year of severe drought, the worst on record. Towards the end of the year 'The Sydney Morning Herald' commissioned him to accompany reporter Keith Newman and a photographer to cover the story. Drysdale's illustrations for three newspaper reports led to recognition of his great skill as a draughtsman; while his experience inspired a remarkable series of paintings including 'Walls of China'.

While Drysdale's newspaper illustrations of the drought were mostly based upon memory or thumbnail sketches that he had made on the spot; this drawing was made in the studio following his return to Sydney. As part of his working process, Drysdale created a small pen and ink drawing 'Study for 'Walls of China' '(also in the AGNSW collection. The latter summarises his planned composition for the painting, revealing a stage when he had selected the wind-eroded form of a dead tree to comprise the central motif, symbolising the devastation he had witnessed. This larger pencil drawing 'Study for 'Drought' series' reveals a development from this in which Drysdale invested the basal root of the tree with a claw-like talon, to heighten the surreal atmosphere of his experience.

Bibliography (2)

Joseph Brown Gallery, Russell Drysdale Drawings 1935-1980, Melbourne, 1981. catalogue no: 60

Lou Klepac, Russell Drysdale: the drawings, 'Russell Drysdale: The Rabbiters and Hill End', pg. 19-25, Roseville, 2012, 25 (illus.).

Exhibition history (4)

Russell Drysdale Drawings 1935-1980, Joseph Brown Gallery, Australia, 01 Mar 1981–31 Mar 1981

International Works on Paper Fair Sydney 1995, Mitchell Library, 14 Jul 1995–16 Jul 1995

Australian icons: twenty artists from the collection, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 04 Aug 2000–03 Dec 2000

Russell Drysdale: the drawings: