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An image of Nebuchadnezzar on fire falling over a waterfall by Arthur Boyd

Arthur Boyd

(Australia, England 24 Jul 1920 – 24 Apr 1999)

Nebuchadnezzar on fire falling over a waterfall
Other titles:
Nebuchadnezzar over a waterfall
Media category
Materials used
oil on canvas

183.5 x 175.9 cm stretcher

Signature & date
Signed l.r. corner, red oil "Arthur Boyd". Not dated.
Gift of Ms Catherine Palmer 1983
Accession number
© Reproduced with permission of Bundanon Trust
Not on display
Further information

According to the Book of Daniel in the Old Testament, Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, was punished by God for his pride and made insane for seven years:

… driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hairs were grown like eagles’ feathers and his nails like birds’ claws.

Reminded of Icarus, who flew too close to the sun and fell to the earth in flames, Arthur Boyd portrays Nebuchadnezzar as a meteor heading towards a waterfall in the Australian bush. Parallels with contemporary events may also be
drawn. As Robert Hughes pointed out in 1994, ‘Nebuchadnezzar on fire falling over a waterfall clearly related to the acts of self-immolation by protestors against the Vietnam war’.

Bibliography (13)

T.S.R. Boase, Nebuchadnezzar, 18 drawings and 34 paintings, London, 1972, 20-21 (colour illus.). plate no. 4

Rosemary Clark, Collection of 1994 Australian Stamps, 1994, 16 (illus.).

Rosemary Clark, Mary Hoban and Lisa Lim, The collection of 1999 Australian stamps, 'Australian legends - Arthur Boyd, AC, OBE', pg. 18-19, Australia, 1999, 18 (colour illus.), 19.

Rob Ditessa', Artist's palette, 'Icons on show', pg. 54-59, Sydney, 2000, 54-55 (colour illus.).

Fernanda Eberstadt, When the Sons of Heaven Meet the Daughters of Earth, London, 1997, cover.

Lou Klepac, Australian painters of the twentieth century, 'Sidney Nolan', pg. 136-147, Roseville, 2000, 155 (colour illus.).

Roger S Magnusson, Angels of death: exploring the euthanasia underground, Carlton South, 2002, front cover (colour illus., detail), back cover (colour illus.).

Janet McKenzie, Arthur Boyd: Art and life, 'Collaborative projects', pg.130-55, London, 2000, 139-140, 141 (colour illus.), 143.

Sam Neill, Celebrity choice: Sam Neill, Sydney, 1987, front cover (colour illus.). catalogue entry; no catalogue numbers; not paginated

Barry Pearce, Arthur Boyd retrospective, Sydney, 1993, cover (colour illus.), 108 (colour illus.). 108

Barry Pearce, Look, 'The legacy in Sydney Arthur Boyd', pg. 18-20, South Yarra, Jul 1999, 19 (colour illus.), 20.

Campbell Reid (Editor), The Weekend Australian, Surry Hills, 01 May 1999-02 May 1999, 23, 24 (colour illus.).

Natalie Wilson, Australian art: in the Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'Out of Melbourne: realisms and mythologies', pg. 163-164, Sydney, 2000, 164, 182 (colour illus., detail), 183 (colour illus.), 300.

Exhibition history (3)

Celebrity Choice - Sam Neill, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 08 Jan 1987–08 Feb 1987

Arthur Boyd retrospective (1993-1994):

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