"In the heat of a late afternoon, the stifling air red with dust, the main road empty of life, he conveys a difficult and lonely existence, where man constantly battles against the elements."
- Paul Haefliger 1948
In mid-August 1947, prompted by a Sydney Morning Herald article on the deserted gold towns of New South Wales, fellow artist Donald Friend suggested to Drysdale that they make a trip to the Bathurst area to run in Drysdale's new car. On the way to Hill End where they spent the night, they stopped at Sofala, 200 kilometres west of Sydney.
The resulting 'Sofala', also in the collection of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, is one of Drysdale's finest, most powerful paintings. With its compelling evocation of the atmosphere and ambience of a oppressively hot summer afternoon in the deserted main street of this historic country town, it transcends literal description of a particular place, to become an expression of the quintessential qualities of an inland Australian town.
Drysdale's later portrait of Donald Friend standing outside the rear of Hill End's Presbyterian church, is a tribute to their friendship and association with these towns whose unique qualities were cherished by both artists.
Australian Art Department, AGNSW, 2000
Portrait of Donald Friend
oil on hardboard
121.5 x 91.4 cm board; 140.3 x 110.3 x 6.0 cm frame
Signature & date
Signed l.r. corner, red oil "Russell Drysdale". Not dated.
Not on display
© Reproduced with permission
Shown in 15 exhibitions
Russell Drysdale 1948-1949, Macquarie Galleries, Sydney, 23 Mar 1949–04 Apr 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
Artists by artists (1954), Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 04 Nov 1954–05 Dec 1954
Russell Drysdale: a retrospective exhibition of paintings from 1937 to 1960, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 05 Oct 1960–06 Nov 1960
Russell Drysdale: A retrospective exhibition; paintings 1937-1960 (Queensland Art Gallery), Queensland Art Gallery, South Brisbane, 22 Apr 1961–28 May 1961
Famous Australians by famous Australian artists, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, 07 Mar 1964–21 Mar 1964
Some interesting Australians: A loan collection of portraits, Georges Gallery, Melbourne, 08 Aug 1967–26 Aug 1967
Aspects of Australian art: Art Gallery of New South Wales Travelling Art Exhibition 1976, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 1976–1977
The Artists of Hill End:
- Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney 29 Jul 1995–17 Sep 1995
- Bathurst Regional Art Gallery, Bathurst 06 Oct 1995–19 Nov 1995
- New England Regional Art Museum, Armidale 10 Feb 1996–31 Mar 1996
- Broken Hill City Art Gallery, Broken Hill 19 Apr 1996–26 May 1996
- Art Gallery of Ballarat, Ballarat 07 Jun 1996–29 Jul 1996
Russell Drysdale 1912-1981:
- National Gallery of Victoria [St Kilda Road], Melbourne 19 Dec 1997–09 Mar 1998
- Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney 27 Mar 1998–10 May 1998
- Queensland Art Gallery, South Brisbane 18 May 1998–28 Jun 1998
- Museum and Art Galleries of the Northern Territory, Darwin 20 Jul 1998–30 Aug 1998
- Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Hobart 23 Sep 1998–15 Nov 1998
Australian icons: twenty artists from the collection, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 04 Aug 2000–03 Dec 2000
Favourites: Margaret Olley and Jeffrey Smart (2002), S.H. Ervin Gallery, Sydney, 12 Jan 2002–24 Feb 2002
Open Air: Portraits in the landscape, National Portrait Gallery [Parliamentary Zone], Canberra, 04 Dec 2008–01 Mar 2009
Russell Drysdale: the drawings, S.H. Ervin Gallery, Sydney, 17 Feb 2012–25 Mar 2012
Referenced in 22 publications
Art Gallery of New South Wales, A selection of eighty-two reproductions mainly from the Australian collection and including examples from the British, French and Dutch [Art Gallery of New South Wales]., Sydney, 1959. plate no. 40
Famous Australian artists, The Adelaide Festival of Arts 1964: Souvenir Catalogue of special exhibitions at the National Gallery of South Australia, Famous Australians, Adelaide, 1964. cat. no. 8
Giles Auty, The Weekend Australian, 'Country characters', pg. 19, Sydney, 27 Dec 1997-28 Dec 1997, 19 (illus.). This article appeared in the 'Arts' section of 'The Weekend Australian'.
Helen Campbell, Look, 'Russell Drysdale 1912-1981', pg. 14-15, Heidelberg, Apr 1998, 14 (colour illus.).
Edmund Capon and Ursula Prunster, Face to face: Australian portraits, Sydney, 1986, (illus.). cat.no. 25
Russell Drysdale, The paintings of Russell Drysdale: reproducing fifteen plates in colour with an essay by Joseph Burke, 'List of works and owners, 1951', pg.47-52, Sydney, 1951, 51.
Geoffrey Dutton, Russell Drysdale, London, 1964, 135 (illus.), 187. plate no. 49
Edwards and Shaw (Printer), Russell Drysdale: retrospective exhibition 1937 - 1960, Sydney, 1960. cat.no. 55
James Gleeson, Art Gallery of New South Wales Quarterly, 'Russell Drysdale', pg. 39-43, Sydney, Oct 1960, front cover (illus.).
Paul Haefliger, The Sydney Morning Herald, 'Drysdale, Fox exhibitions', pg. 7, Sydney, 23 Mar 1949, 7.
Lou Klepac, The life and work of Russell Drysdale, 'Photographs and imagination', pg. 59-66, Kensington, 1983, 61, 93, 274 (colour illus.), 367. plate no. 89
Robert Lindsay., Aspects of Australian Art: Art Gallery of New South Wales travelling art exhibition 1976, 'Russell Drysdale', Sydney, 1976, (illus.). cat.no. 53; not paginated
Tatlock Miller, Sun, 'Russell Drysdale's fine exhibition', pg. 12, Sydney, 23 Mar 1949, 12.
Hal Missingham, Artists by artists, Sydney, 1954, 8, (illus.). cat.no. 21
Margaret Olley and Jeffrey Smart, Favourites: Margaret Olley and Jeffrey Smart selections, Sydney, 2002. NOTE: No catalogue numbers; titled 'Portrait of Donald Friend'; Margaret Olley selection.
Andrew Sayers, Sarah Engledow and Wally Caruana, Open air: portraits in the landscape, 'Open air: Portraits in the landscape', pg. 3-66, Sydney, 2008, 39, 42, 44 (colour illus.).
Geoffrey Smith, Russell Drysdale 1912-1981, Melbourne, 1997, 23, 108, 109 (colour illus.). cat.no. 35
Jill Sykes, Look, 'Donald Friend: memories of an artist and good companion', pg. 29-31, Sydney, Feb 2007, 29 (colour illus.).
Daniel Thomas, Hemisphere, 'Drysdale's art changed the Australian outlook', pg. 12-18, Sydney, Nov 1960, 16 (illus.).
Daniel Thomas and Paul Haefliger, Russell Drysdale; a retrospective exhibition of paintings from 1937 to 1960, Sydney, 1960, 57. cat.no. 55
Gavin Wilson, The artists of Hill End, 'The Hill End group', pg. 41-96, Sydney, 1995, 66 (colour illus.), 69, 73, 84, 93, 119. plate no. 31
Gavin Wilson, The artists of Hill End: Education guide, Sydney, 1995, front cover (colour illus.). fig.no. 3. Image appears in detail