'Central Australia' is among the most majestic paintings of the series that emerged out of Nolan's visit to Central Australia during 1949. Nolan himself stated to Professor Ford, who purchased this painting from Nolan's 1950 solo exhibition at David Jones' Art Gallery, that 'in many ways it was, I think, the most complete statement I was able to make on Central Australia'. Like other paintings of this series, it arose out of Nolan's experience of flying over inland Australia, accompanying mail runs to remote settlements. Using an aerial viewpoint to increase the sense of vastness, his painting celebrates the extraordinary beauty of desert colour, form and light.
Collection highlights tour Central Australia
enamel and oil on hardboard
122.0 x 152.5 cm board; 138.2 x 168.0 x 1.8 cm frame
Signature & date
Signed and dated l.r. corner, red oil "18.3.50/ Nolan".
Purchased with funds provided by the Nelson Meers Foundation 2004
Not on display
© The Trustees of the Sidney Nolan Trust/Bridgeman Art Library
Shown in 8 exhibitions
Sidney Nolan: exhibition of Central Australian landscapes (1950), David Jones' Art Gallery, Sydney, Sydney, 31 Mar 1950–14 Apr 1950
Archibald, Wynne Sulman Competitions for 1950, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 20 Jan 1951–04 Mar 1951
Sidney Nolan retrospective exhibition. Paintings from 1937 to 1967:
- Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney 13 Sep 1967–29 Oct 1967
- National Gallery of Victoria [Swanston Street], Melbourne 22 Nov 1967–17 Dec 1967
- Western Australian Art Gallery, Perth 09 Jan 1968–04 Feb 1968
Christie's: Australian paintings. Sale No. 14, Bonython Art Gallery [Sydney], Paddington, 18 Oct 1975–21 Oct 1975
Spring exhibition 1979, Joseph Brown Gallery, Australia, 17 Oct 1979–30 Oct 1979
Nolan: Myths, landscapes and portraits 1942-1964, Lauraine Diggins Fine Art, North Caulfield, 11 Jun 1987–26 Jun 1987
Sidney Nolan: Desert and Drought, Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, Melbourne, 06 Jun 2003–17 Aug 2003
Sidney Nolan (2007-2008):
Referenced in 37 publications
Brian Adams, Sidney Nolan: such is life, Melbourne, 1987, 109-114. NOTE: Discussion of Nolan's trip to Central Australia and the series of landscape paintings.
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of New South Wales annual report 2005, Sydney, 2005, 28.
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of New South Wales Annual Report 2004, Sydney, 2004, 19-20.
Edmund Capon, Art Gallery of New South Wales: highlights from the collection, Sydney, 2008, 100-101 (colour illus.).
Christie's, Australia Pty. Ltd., Christie's: Australian paintings. Sale No. 14, Sydney, 1975, front cover (colour illus.), between 78 and 79 (colour illus.). lot no. 418
Sir Kenneth Clark and Artur Lundkvist, Sidney Nolan, Stockholm, 1976, 20.
L.F. Fitzhardinge., Sidney Nolan: exhibition of Central Australian landscapes, Introduction, Sydney, 1950. cat.no. 19; titled 'Central Australia'; price: 150 Guineas
F.L., The Sydney Morning Herald, 'Prize-winning paintings in Archibald and Wynne contests', pg. 3, Sydney, 20 Jan 1951, 3. NOTE: Review of Archibald and Wynne competitions.
Michael Gawenda (Editor in Chief), Age, 'AGNSW's new Nolan room', pg. 6, Melbourne, 22 Dec 2004, 6.
Ross Gibson, Here art grows on trees: Simryn Gill, 'Motility', pg. 258-267, Sydney, 2013, 266 (colour illus.), 279. cat.no. 204
James Gleeson., Sun, 'Mediocre Archibald paintings', Sydney, 21 Jan 1950, 3. NOTE: Review of Archibald Prize.
James Gleeson, Sun, 'Dobell painting is "superb"', pg. 4, Sydney, 20 Jan 1951. NOTE: Review of Archibald and Wynne competitions.
James Gleeson, Sun, 'Landscapes triumph for Aust. artist', pg. 19, Sydney, 31 Mar 1950, 19. NOTE: Review of 'Sidney Nolan: exhibition of Central Australian landscapes', held at David Jones Art Gallery, Sydney.
Art Critic [Paul Haefliger]., The Sydney Morning Herald, 'Archibald Prize: Avan artist wins Archibald Prize with chance work: Paintings 'Conservative'", Sydney, 21 Jan 1950. NOTE: Review of Archibald Prize.
Christopher Heathcote, Encounters with Australian modern art, 'Reconstruction culture 1945-1962', pg. 9-56, South Yarra, 2008, 20, 21 (colour illus.), 22. NOTE: Related work reproduced: titled 'Lagoon', 1950, private collection.
Peter Hill, The Sydney Morning Herald, 'Mix 'n' match', pg. 18, Sydney, 15 Jan 2005-16 Jan 2005, 18. NOTE: Spectrum supplement of Saturday's edition.
Mervyn Horton (Editor), Art and Australia [vol. 5, no. 2], Sydney, Sep 1967, 455, 456 (colour illus.). NOTE: Owned by Professor Sir Edward Ford.
Terry Ingram, The Weekend Australian financial review, 'Nolan emerges from Kelly's shadow', pg. 40, Sydney, 22 Jan 2005-23 Jan 2005, 40 (colour illus.). NOTE: 'Smart money' section.
Lauraine Diggins Fine Art, Nolan: Myths, landscapes & portraits 1942-1964, Melbourne, 1987, (colour illus.). cat.no. 12
Alan McCulloch, Encyclopedia of Australian art (Vol.2, L-Z), Hawthorn East, 1984, between pages 848 and 849 (colour illus.).
Susan McCulloch, Alan McCulloch and Emily McCulloch Childs, The new McCulloch's encyclopedia of Australian art, Carlton, 2006, 733 (colour illus.).
Sandra McGrath and John Olsen, The artist & the desert, 'Sidney Nolan', pg. 58-60, Sydney, 1981, 58-60. NOTE: Discussion of series of Central Australian landscapes and David Jones' Gallery exhibition in 1950.
Hal Missingham, Sidney Nolan. Retrospective exhibition. Paintings from 1937 to 1967, Sydney, 1967, 20. cat.no. 59
Giucio Montagna (Editor), La Fiamma, 'Sydney [sic] Nolan at the Art Gallery of NSW', pg. 18, Leichhardt, 22 Dec 2004, 18.
Clare Morgan., The Sydney Morning Herald, 'Gallery sells off the family silver and strikes gold', Sydney, 21 Dec 2004, (colour illus.). NOTE: Two reproductions of work: one image shows 'Central Australia' on display with Judith White, Nelson Meers, Sam Meers and Edmund Capon in front of work.
National Art Gallery of New South Wales, Archibald, Wynne, Sulman competitions for 1950, Sydney, 1951?, 12. cat.no. 33 in Wynne Compeition entries
Elwyn Lynn, Sidney Nolan - Australia, Sydney, 1979, 13. NOTE: General reference.
John Olsen, Art and Australia (Vol. 44, No. 2), 'Artist's choice: Nolan and the Central Australian landscape 1949-50', pg. 212, Sydney, Dec 2006-Feb 2007, 212, 213 (colour illus.).
Barry Pearce, Frances Lindsay, Lou Klepac and Edmund Capon, Sidney Nolan, Sydney, 2007, 8-9 (colour illus.), 40, 134, 147 (colour illus.), 234. cat.no. 55
Krystyna Pollar., The Australian, 'Nolan the nation's "greatest painter"', Sydney, 19 Dec 2004. NOTE: This article also appeared in Melbourne's 'Herald Sun' and 'Daily telegraph', Adelaide's 'Advertiser' and Brisbane's 'Courier mail', on 19 December 2004.
Sebastian Smee., The Australian, 'Gallery makes room for foundation's gift of Nolans', Sydney, 21 Dec 2004, (colour illus.). Image shows 'Central Australia' on display with Judith White, Nelson Meers, Sam Meers and Edmund Capon in front of work.
Geoffrey Smith, Sidney Nolan: desert & drought, 'Outback', pg. 12-65, Melbourne, 2003, 21, 25, 53 (colour illus.), 148. cat.no. 31
Jill Sykes (Editor), Look, 'Doing justice to Nolan', pg. 8, Sydney, Mar 2005, 8 (colour illus.). NOTE: Reproduction shows Nelson Meers and Sam Meers in front of the painting.
Jill Sykes, Look, 'Nolan's Australia', pg. 28-31, Sydney, Oct 2004, front cover (colour illus., detail), 7 (colour illus.), 28-29 (colour illus.), 30.
Daniel Thomas, The Sydney Morning Herald, 'The poetic themes of Sidney Nolan', pg. 15, Sydney, 09 Sep 1967, 15 (colour illus.).
Unknown (Editor), Sun, 'Gentlemanly jackeroos [sic]: wash of Archibald Prize', Sydney, 26 Jan 1950, unknown.
Author Unknown, Spring Exhibition 1979 (Joseph Brown Gallery 1979), Melbourne, Oct 1979, (colour illus.). cat.no. 136