(Australia, England 22 Apr 1917–28 Nov 1992)
152.0 x 122.0cm board; 170.0 x 139.6 x 4.5cm frame
In his attempt to find a contemporary relevance for the bushranger Ned Kelly, Nolan reworked the image of the defiant, armour-clad outlaw set against the Australian bush time and again.
Shortly after painting the series of Antarctic subjects in 1964, he produced over twenty-five 'River/Kelly' paintings, considered by the artist as preparation for the pinnacle of his career - 'Riverbend' - a work consisting of nine panels now in the Australian National Library, Canberra.
Here the protagonist of the narrative becomes reduced in scale, dwarfed by the immensity of the tumultuous cascade of water and undergrowth. The real subject becomes the river landscape, which Nolan once explained to be a combination of the Goulburn River at Shepparton, where he had spent holidays as a child, and the Murray; areas he related strongly to his father.
Great slashing brushstrokes contrast with areas of intense scraping back with both palette knife, fingers and paint brush handle, suggesting the actual texture of tree trunks, lush foliage and cascading water.
Australian Art Department, AGNSW, 2000
Damian Smith (Australia) (Author), Kendrah Morgan (Australia) (Author), Unmasked: Sidney Nolan and Ned Kelly 1950-1990, Melbourne, 2006, 61. List of works. No catalogue numbers.
Nick Waterlow (Australia) (Curator), Larrikins in London: an Australian presence in 1960s London, Sydney, 2003, 86 (colour illus.), 112.
Australian icons: twenty artists from the collection, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 04 Aug 2000–03 Dec 2000.
Larrikins in London: An Australian presence in 1960s London, Ivan Dougherty Gallery, 04 Sep 2003–11 Oct 2003.
Unmasked: Nolan and Kelly 1950-90, Heide Museum of Modern Art, 11 Nov 2006–04 Mar 2007.