One of a series of 'Outback' paintings made following a trip to Queensland and Fraser Island in 1947, 'Pretty Polly Mine' - with its haunting, desolate remains of a once prosperous past - was the first of Nolan's works to be acquired by any public gallery, together with 'Carron Plains'.
Painted from memories of a visit to a deserted Mt Isa mine, the stiff, dark-suited figure wandering the ramshackle structures is based on the mine manager the artist met there, who:
'... liked feeding birds every morning. Everyone thought he was bonkers, but he fed the birds, rosellas and all.'
- Sidney Nolan 1978
Nolan's concept of the Australian landscape is interwoven with its history, legends and the psyche of its inhabitants, producing works which are often surreal in character.
In 1949 he travelled to Central Australia, and produced another important series of landscapes, which received widespread critical acclaim:
'He may well be the man we have been hoping would arise - someone who is capable of expressing with size and vision what many Australians feel ... about this great and unusual country ... His effort and his intent will earn the gratitude of many devoted Australians.'
- R.G. Casey 1950
Violence and sunlight: the art of Sidney Nolan
Ripolin enamel on hardboard
91.0 x 122.2 cm board; 107.2 x 137.9 x 5.2 cm frame
Signature & date
Signed and dated l.r. corner, pencil "4-12-48 / 21 Nolan".
Where the work was made
Shown in 10 exhibitions
Sidney Nolan: Queensland outback paintings (1949), David Jones' Art Gallery, Sydney, Sydney, 08 Mar 1949–22 Mar 1949
Purchases and Acquisitions for 1949, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 17 Dec 1949–17 Feb 1950
A retrospective exhibition of Australian painting, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 25 Sep 1953–25 Oct 1953
Sidney Nolan (1957), Whitechapel Art Gallery, London, Jun 1957–Jul 1957
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
Fifteen decades of Australian painting, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 10 Apr 1981–24 May 1981
Sidney Nolan: landscapes and legends a retrospective exhibition 1937 - 1987:
- National Gallery of Victoria [St Kilda Road], Melbourne 03 Jun 1987–26 Jul 1987
- Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney 11 Aug 1987–27 Sep 1987
- Art Gallery of Western Australia, Australia 21 Oct 1987–29 Nov 1987
- Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide 15 Dec 1987–31 Jan 1988
Australian icons: twenty artists from the collection, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 04 Aug 2000–03 Dec 2000
Sidney Nolan (2007-2008):
Australia, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 21 Sep 2013–08 Dec 2013
Referenced in 44 publications
Brian Adams, Sidney Nolan: such is life, Melbourne, 1987, 88 (colour illus.), 106.
Michaela Boland., The Australian, 'Sidney Nolan work takes wing, after 65 years', Sydney, 19 Jul 2013, n.pag.. viewed 31.07.2013, http://www.theaustralian.com.au/arts/visual-arts/sidney-nolan-work-takes-wing-after-65-years/story-fn9d3avm-1226681642885
Edmund Capon and Jan Meek (Editors), Portrait of a Gallery, 'Australian 20th Century Art', pg. 71-89, Sydney, 1984, 73, 75 (colour illus.).
Jane Clark, Sidney Nolan - landscapes and legends: a retrospective exhibition 1937 - 1987, 'Outback', pg. 95-108, Sydney, 1987, 103 (colour illus.).
Jane Clark, The Dictionary of Art, 'Sir Sidney Nolan', pg. 183-184, New York, 1996, 182, 183 (colour illus.). NOTE: vol. 23
Betty Collins, The Copper Crucible, Queensland, 1996, wrap-around cover (colour illus.).
David Jones' Art Gallery, Sydney, Sidney Nolan: Exhibition of Queensland outback paintings, Sydney, 1949. cat.no. 24; priced 45 guineas
James Gleeson., Sun, 'Gallery purchases for 1949', Sydney, 19 Dec 1949.
Deborah Hart, Australia, 'Australian landscape: pathways into the modern world 1920-50', pg. 184-225, London, 2013, 18-19 (colour illus.), 191, 224 (colour illus.). cat.no. 158
Leone Hendry, Australian Library - Famous Australians, Melbourne, 1997, 18.
Nicholas Isherwood, Nolan's Nolans: a reputation reassessed, London, 1997. not paginated; NOTE: under cat.no. 34 'Dog and duck' entry
Bruce James, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Australian Collection: Painting and Sculpture', pg. 102-181, Sydney, 1999, 155 (colour illus.).
Lou Klepac, Australian painters of the twentieth century, 'Sidney Nolan', pg. 136-147, Sydney, 2000, 143 (colour illus.).
Patrick McCaughey (Editor), Bert & Ned: the correspondence of Albert Tucker and Sidney Nolan, Carlton, 2006, 107-114. NOTE: Letter to Albert Tucker dated 26th January 1950. Reference made to travelling around Australia and AGNSW purchasing two artworks.
Alan McCulloch and Susan McCulloch, The Encyclopedia of Australian Art, St Leonards, 1994, 522-23 (colour illus.).
Ewen McDonald, The Art Gallery of New South Wales collections, 'From Colonialism to late Modernism', pg. 7-106, Sydney, 1994, 55 (colour illus.).
Sandra McGrath and John Olsen, The artist & the desert, Sydney, 1981, 62 (colour illus.), 63 (colour illus, detail).
Tatlock Miller., Sun, 'Amazing impact by Australian artist', Sydney, 08 Mar 1949. Review of Nolan's exhibition of outback paintings held at David Jones' Art Gallery.
Hal Missingham, The Studio, 'Recent Australian Painting', pg. 33-41, 63, London, 1957, cover (illus.), 35 (illus.).
Hal Missingham, A retrospective exhibition of Australian painting, Sydney, 1953. cat.no. 146
Hal Missingham, They kill you in the end, 'Trustees', pg. 24-44, Sydney, 1973, 28.
Hal Missingham, Art Gallery of New South Wales Quarterly, 'Sidney Nolan', pg 362-365, Sydney, Oct 1967, 364, 365 (illus.).
Hal Missingham, Sidney Nolan. Retrospective exhibition. Paintings from 1937 to 1967, Sydney, 1967. cat.no. 49; not paginated
Brenda Niall, Judy Cassab: a portrait, Sydney, 2005, 198. NOTE: Reference to Missingham purchasing the artwork
Elwyn Lynn, Sidney Nolan - Australia, Sydney, 1979, 78, 79 (colour illus.), 80.
Barry Pearce, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Australian', pg. 13-35, Sydney, 1988, 27, 29 (illus.).
Barry Pearce, Australian Artists, Australian Birds, North Ryde, 1989, 112 (colour illus.). plate no. 93
Barry Pearce, Frances Lindsay, Lou Klepac and Edmund Capon, Sidney Nolan, 'Queensland, North and Central Australia 1947-53', pg. 134, Sydney, 2007, 39, 134, 139 (colour illus.), 233. cat.no. 48
Barry Pearce, Fifteen decades of Australian paintings, Sydney, 1981, (colour illus.). not paginated; cat.no. 12
Barry Pearce, The Weekend Australian, 'Time makes its judgment', pg. 2-3, Sydney, 12 Aug 2000-13 Aug 2000, 3 (colour illus.). This colour supplement is a 'Review Special' published for the 'Weekend Australian'. It consists of a four-page, colour wrap-around for the 'Weekend Australian Review'. 'The Australian' was the media sponsor for the AGNSW Exhibition 'Australian Icons', for the Olympic Arts Festival 2000.
Corrie Perkin, The Australian, 'A thoroughly modern milieu', pg.36, Sydney, 08 Feb 2007, 36 (colour illus.). NOTE: Book review for "Modernism and Australia: Documents on Art, Design and Architecture, 1917-1967".
Bryan Robertson, Sidney Nolan, 'Preface', pg. 3-4, London, 1957, 18. cat.no. 11
Robert Rooney., The Weekend Australian, 'Favourite thems revisited', Sydney, 06 Jun 1987-07 Jun 1987, unknown. NOTE: Review of 'Myths and Heroes: The art of Sir Sidney Nolan 1937-1982" at NGV.
T.G. Rosenthal, Sidney Nolan, 'Eureka and the miners', pg. 188-197, London, 2002, 194, 195 (colour illus.), 196.
Shirley Sherwood (Editor), Australia Explored by the Great South Pacific Express, 'Arts of Australia', pg. 32-35, Australia, 1998, 35 (colour illus.).
Bernard William Smith, A catalogue of Australian oil paintings in the National Art Gallery of New South Wales 1875-1952, Sydney, 1953, 155. cat.no. 496; Provenance: purchased by the Director, Mr. Hal Missingham, 7/3/1949, from the exhibition of the artist's works held at David Jones's Art Gallery.
Geoffrey Smith, Sidney Nolan: desert & drought, 'Outback', pg. 12-64, Melbourne, 2003, 12, 14. NOTE: General information
William Splatt and Barbara Burton, 100 masterpieces of Australian painting, Adelaide, 1973, 166, 167 (colour illus.). plate no. 80
Felicity St John Moore, Charles Blackman: schoolgirls and angels: a retrospective exhibition of paintings and drawings by Charles Blackman, Melbourne, 1993, 5 (illus.).
Jill Sykes, Look, 'Breaking the territorial mould: some thoughts from a new head curator', pg. 30-31, Sydney, Sep 2011, 30 (colour illus.).
Daniel Thomas, Art and Australia, 'Australian collection', pg. 52-62, Sydney, Jul 1972, 55 (colour illus.).
Matthew Westwood., HQ, 'Sidney Nolan', Darlinghurst, Sep 2000, page unknown.
Judith White, Look, 'Olympians of Australian art', pg. 16-18, Melbourne, Jul 2000, 18 (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, 175 (colour illus.), 301.