'Two drinkers' is a typical subject for Drysdale, a man and a woman drinking at a bar (with a view outside to two stockmen), which brings to mind similar subjects by Degas, Toulouse-Lautrec and Picasso.
Essentially this work is a drawing in charcoal on a primed canvas - Drysdale's vigorous draughtsmanship establishes the essentials of the picture compositionally and the scene's inherent melancholy.
Drysdale often painted in thin glazes, hence the importance of the ochre coloured ground. There are a few marks of heavier paint in a midtone green-grey and reddish-brown that have been palette-knifed onto the background behind the heads of the two figures, suggesting how he intended the painting to develop.
Being at a preliminary stage the work has an immediacy and authenticity which makes it particularly appealing, especially to anyone seeking an insight into Drysdale's work and his working methods.
Australian Art Department, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 2002
circa 1980-circa 1981
charcoal and oil on ochre-primed canvas
45.5 x 60.7 cm stretcher
Signature & date
Not signed. Not dated.
Bequest of Lady Drysdale 2002
Not on display
© Russell Drysdale Estate