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Australian art

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Donald Friend


06 Feb 1915 - 16 Aug 1989


"Its single street, deep in the Turon valley is lined with a forest of verandah posts: the whitewash on shanties and abandoned stores cannot disguise their age-hitching posts, spring carts and bearded old-timers drowsing in the shade create the atmosphere of a different world ...".
George Farwell, 1947

Jaded by a frenzied city existence, Donald Friend and fellow artist Russell Drysdale made a trip from Sydney to the Bathurst area in August 1947, prompted by an article in the Sydney Morning Herald about the former gold-rush towns of the area. Stopping in Sofala, described in Friend's diary entry as 'a lovely crazy old village - perfect', the two artists made sketches of the main street from the same viewpoint.
Their respective paintings are a fascinating contrast of temperaments: Friend's quaint and light-hearted in mood, Drysdale's classical and brooding.

Friend was one of a remarkable group of figurative artists, dominated by Drysdale and Dobell and including Sali Herman and Jean Bellette, which flourished in spite of a tendency amongst a number of Sydney painters of the period, towards abstraction.

Australian Art Department, AGNSW, 2001


Other Title

Sofala Street



Media category


Materials used

oil, pen and ink on canvas


51.5 x 61.2 cm stretcher; 76.5 x 86.8 x 8.0 cm frame

Signature & date

Signed and dated u.r. corner, black oil "DONALD. 47".


Gift of Margaret Olley 1995


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Donald Friend

Artist profile

Works in the collection


Shown in 10 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 12 publications


Helen Campbell, Australian art: in the Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'Out of Sydney: city and hinterlands', pg. 185-186, Sydney, 2000, 202 (colour illus.), 300.

Jackie de Diana, Look, 'Art and Australia: More views of European preludes and parallels', pg. 16-17, Sydney, Nov 2010, 13 (colour illus.).

Christine France, Parallel visions: works from the Australian collection, 'Donald Friend / Margaret Olley', pg. 128-139, Sydney, 2002, 129 (colour illus.), 132, 143, 147.

Paul Haefliger., The Sydney Morning Herald, 'Christmas art show stimulating', Sydney, 10 Dec 1947. page number unknown

Lou Klepac, Donald Friend: a charmed life, Canberra, 2006. Checklist of works.

Lou Klepac, Australian painters of the twentieth century, 'Donald Friend', pg. 112-123, Sydney, 2000, 116 (colour illus.).

Tatlock Miller., Sun, '28 give Christmas art show', Sydney, 10 Dec 1947. page number unknown

Barry Pearce, Donald Friend Retrospective 1915-1989, 'Introduction', pg. 9-20, Sydney, 1990, 58 (colour illus.). 34; Collection: private collection

Renée Porter, Margaret Olley: painter, peer, mentor, muse, 'Margaret Olley: a celebration of life in paint', pg. 8-89, The Rocks, 2017, 12, 14, 15 (colour illus.), 111.

Kathie Sutherland, Brett Whiteley: A sensual lilne 1957-67, Victoria, 2010, 32.

Gavin Wilson, The artists of Hill End, Sydney, 1995, 38 (colour illus.), 118. plate no. 15

Editor Unknown (Editor), Margaret Olley Art Trust, Sydney, circa 1994, (colour illus.).