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Hare in trap



Sidney Nolan

Australia, England

22 Apr 1917 - 28 Nov 1992


'Hare in trap' was painted between Sidney Nolan’s iconic Wimmera landscapes and St Kilda paintings of 1940–45, and the first Ned Kelly series 1946–47. To varying degrees it reflects the growing sense of unease Nolan experienced while staying at the home of Melbourne patrons John and Sunday Reed, and the anxiety caused by his desertion from the army in 1944.

With its startling blue eye conveying fear, pain and a desperate struggle for freedom, 'Hare in trap' is powerfully autobiographical. Nolan himself suggested that the hare’s eyes relate to an incident during a car trip to northern Victoria, when the painter and his father came across a hare caught in a trap – the resultant look in his father’s blue eyes struck Nolan vividly. This beautiful, enigmatic painting, which can be read as a self-portrait, is revered universally by scholars and Nolan’s admirers as one of his finest masterpieces.


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Other Title

Hare in a trap



Media category


Materials used

Ripolin enamel on hardboard


90.5 x 121.5 cm board

Signature & date

Not signed. Dated l.r., "Sept 15th 46".


Purchased with funds provided by the Nelson Meers Foundation, the Margaret Hannah Olley Art Trust, and the Art Gallery of New South Wales Foundation 2007


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Sidney Nolan

Works in the collection


Shown in 8 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 22 publications


Brian Adams, Sidney Nolan: such is life, Melbourne, 1987, 190.

Sir Kenneth Clark, Bryan Robertson and Colin MacInnes, Sidney Nolan, London, 1961, (illus.). plate no. 3

Sir Kenneth Clark, Sidney Nolan, Folkestone, 1970, (illus.). 14; Lent by V.C. Nolan

Contemporary Art Society (New South Wales), Eighth Annual Exhibition: Contemporary Art Society (1946), Sydney, 1946. 270; priced 60 gns

Our art critic, The Sydney Morning Herald, 'Contemporary art more conservative', pg 5, Sydney, 12 Nov 1946, unknown. Review of CAS 8th annual exhibition.

Richard Ingleby., The independent, 'Visual Arts: Nolans Nolans, Agnew's Gallery, London', London, 17 Jun 1997.

Terry Ingram., The Australian financial review magazine, 'The jury's still out after Jinx fails in case about a whole lot of Nolans', Sydney, 29 Sep 2001-30 Sep 2001, unknown.

Nicholas Isherwood, Nolan's Nolans: a reputation reassessed, London, 1997, (colour illus.). 29

Philip Jones., The Australian financial review magazine, 'England made me', Sydney, 22 Feb 2002, unknown.

Lou Klepac, Barry Pearce, Bruce James, John McDonald, Peter Pinson, Gavin Fry, Sasha Grishin AM and Deborah Hart, Australian painters of the twentieth century, Sydney, 2000, 141 (colour illus.). titled 'Hare in a trap'

Elwyn Lynn, Sidney Nolan: myth and imagery, London, 1967, 16, 17, 65 (illus.). plate no. 18

Ian MacGregor (Editor), The daily telegraph (London), 'Nolan paintings appeal dismissed', England, 11 Jun 2004.

Steve Meacham., The Sydney Morning Herald, 'Stoush over Nolan to do Ned proud', Sydney, 08 Apr 2002, unknown.

Hal Missingham, Sidney Nolan. Retrospective exhibition. Paintings from 1937 to 1967, Sydney, 1967. 31

Terence Mullaly., Daily Telegraph, 'Early work of Sidney Nolan: painter's progress to maturity', Sydney, 19 May 1962, unknown.

Edwin Mullins., Apollo, 'Academy myths and private images', London, Jul 1962.

Barry Pearce, Frances Lindsay, Lou Klepac and Edmund Capon, Sidney Nolan, Sydney, 2007, 113 (colour illus.), 231. 25

T.G. Rosenthal, Sidney Nolan, 'Chapter one: Early work and St Kilda', pg. 19-39, London, 2002, 39 (colour illus.).

Kenneth Rowntree, Nolan '37 - '47, London, 1962. 37

Editor Unknown, Catholic weekly, 'Art, Contemporary art society', Sydney, 28 Nov 1946, unknown.

Nolan (2002), Sydney, 2002, 13 (colour illus.). 6

The Cythnia Nolan collection of paintings by Sidney Nolan, Sydney, 1975. 2