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An image of Corn cobs by Nora Heysen

Nora Heysen

(Australia 11 Jan 1911 – 30 Dec 2003)

Corn cobs
Media category
Materials used
oil on canvas

40.5 x 51.3 cm stretcher; 57.7 x 68.1 x 5.0 cm frame

Signature & date
Signed and dated l.r. corner, blue oil "NORA HEYSEN/ 1938".
Purchased 1987
Accession number
© Lou Klepac
Not on display
Further information

After studying abroad, Nora Heysen returned to Australia in late 1937 and revisited her old studio at Hahndorf, where she was raised in the Adelaide Hills. It was here that she painted a number of exceptional, high-keyed works, including 'Corn cobs', one of her most dynamic compositions to date, before settling in Sydney the following year.

With sumptuous, vivid colour, the painting captures the abundance of fresh corn, demonstrating Heysen's ability to source subjects from her immediate surroundings. Strong diagonal lines, created by the arrangement of the corn, heighten the dynamism of the composition. The pictorial surface is animated with short brushstrokes – exemplifying the artist's impressionistic approach – while the interplay between tone, form and light evokes a sense of immediacy in the work.

Bibliography (11)

Christine Dixon and Dinah Dysart, Counterclaims: presenting Australian art 1938-1941, Sydney, 1986, 19 (illus.), 46. AAA27

Deborah Edwards, Australian art: in the Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'Classical allusions', pg. 135-136, Sydney, 2000, 143 (colour illus.), 300.

Sasha Grishin, Australian art: a history, 'The Great Depression and the war', pg. 274-285, Carlton, 2013, 283 (colour illus.), 285, 550, 562. plate no. 28.6

Janet Hawley, Good Weekend, 'The other Heysen', pg. 34-38, Sydney, 27 Jun 1998, 37 (colour illus.).

Jane Hylton, Nora Heysen: light and life, 'A wealth of experience: Sydney and World War Two', pg. 31-38, Kent Town, 2009, 33, 64 (colour illus.).

Lou Klepac, Art and Australia (Vol. 41, No. 4), 'Nora Heysen 1911-2003', pg. 555, Paddington, Jun 2004-Aug 2004, 555 (colour illus.).

Lou Klepac, Nora Heysen, 'Nora Heysen', pg. 1-6, Canberra, 2000, 4, 5, 29 (colour illus.), 51.

Hendrik Kolenberg, Look, 'Heysen to Heysen: letters across a generation', pg. 33-36, Newtown, Mar 2012, 35 (colour illus.).

Barry Pearce, Look, 'The Lowy, Gonski Gallery', pg. 37, Newtown, Dec 2005-Jan 2006, 37.

Barry Pearce, Look, 'Nora Heysen 1911-2003: an artist in her own right', pg. 18-19, Newtown, May 2004, 18 (colour illus.).

Catherine Speck, Heysen to Heysen: selected letters of Hans Heysen and Nora Heysen, 'Introduction', pg. 1-19, Canberra, 2011, 14.

Exhibition history (4)

Australian Academy of Art 1938, Vickery's Galleries, Sydney, 08 Apr 1938–29 Apr 1938

Nora Heysen, National Library of Australia, Canberra, 25 Oct 2000–28 Jan 2001

Nora Heysen: Light and life, Carrick Hill, Australia, 01 Apr 2009–28 Jun 2009

Still life, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 27 Jul 2013–23 Apr 2014