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An image of Petunias by Nora Heysen

Nora Heysen

(Australia 11 Jan 1911 – 30 Dec 2003)

Media category
Materials used
oil on canvas

61.0 x 51.0 cm stretcher; 80.0 x 69.0 cm frame

Purchased 1930
Accession number
© Lou Klepac
20th & 21st c Australian art
Further information

'Petunias' demonstrates Nora Heysen's clear articulation of form and colour, highlighting her ability to capture the qualities and sensations inherent to her subject. The painting presents an immaculate arrangement of objects, arguably more real than reality, emphasising Heysen's poetic pursuit.

Artist Hans Heysen, who often critiqued his daughter Nora Heysen's work, noted her treatment of 'each flower being seen somewhat separately'. This aspect of the work is central to its modernist tendencies and distinguishes her work from her father's practice. Distinct forms and their rich colouring are intrinsic to the overall design of the painting. Aligned with this vision, the tablecloth and the chinoiserie backdrops are schematically employed by the artist as a device to create flat blocks of colour in the painting.

Bibliography (5)

Ann Elias, Art and Australia (Vol. 38, No. 3), 'Beautiful and true: early flower painting by Nora Heysen', pg. 404-409, St Leonards, Mar 2001-May 2001, 405 (colour illus.), 407, 408.

Hendrik Kolenberg, Look, 'Focus on Nora Heysen', pg. 20-21, Newtown, Dec 2005-Jan 2006, 21.

Lionel Lindsay, 150 years of Australian art, Sydney, 1938. 787 [Gallery No. 7]

Society of Artists, Society of Artists Annual Exhibition (1930), Sydney, 1930, 21. 168; Painting listed as not for sale.

Catherine Speck, Heysen to Heysen: selected letters of Hans Heysen and Nora Heysen, 'Introduction', pg. 1-19, Canberra, 2011, 2, 3, 288.

Exhibition history (2)

Society of Artists Annual exhibition (1930), Education Department Gallery [Loftus Street], Sydney, 05 Sep 1930–02 Oct 1930

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