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Australian art

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Nebuchadnezzar on fire falling over a waterfall



Arthur Boyd

Australia, England

24 Jul 1920 - 24 Apr 1999


According to the Book of Daniel in the Old Testament, Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, was punished by God for his pride and made insane for seven years:

… driven from men, and did eat grass as oxen, and his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hairs were grown like eagles’ feathers and his nails like birds’ claws.

Reminded of Icarus, who flew too close to the sun and fell to the earth in flames, Arthur Boyd portrays Nebuchadnezzar as a meteor heading towards a waterfall in the Australian bush. Parallels with contemporary events may also be
drawn. As Robert Hughes pointed out in 1994, ‘Nebuchadnezzar on fire falling over a waterfall clearly related to the acts of self-immolation by protestors against the Vietnam war’.


Other Title

Nebuchadnezzar over a waterfall



Media category


Materials used

oil on canvas


183.2 x 175.0 x 2.4 cm

Signature & date

Signed l.r. corner, red oil "Arthur Boyd". Not dated.


Gift of Ms Catherine Palmer 1983


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Arthur Boyd

Artist profile

Works in the collection


Shown in 4 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 14 publications


Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art from Australia: 2016 calender, Sydney, 2015, n.pag. (colour illus.). month of June

T.S.R. Boase, Nebuchadnezzar, 18 drawings and 34 paintings, London, 1972, 20-21 (colour illus.). plate no. 4

Rosemary Clark, Collection of 1994 Australian Stamps, 1994, 16 (illus.).

Rosemary Clark, Mary Hoban and Lisa Lim, The collection of 1999 Australian stamps, 'Australian legends - Arthur Boyd, AC, OBE', pg. 18-19, Australia, 1999, 18 (colour illus.), 19.

Rob Ditessa', Artist's palette, 'Icons on show', pg. 54-59, Sydney, 2000, 54-55 (colour illus.).

Fernanda Eberstadt, When the Sons of Heaven Meet the Daughters of Earth, London, 1997, cover.

Lou Klepac, Australian painters of the twentieth century, 'Sidney Nolan', pg. 136-147, Sydney, 2000, 155 (colour illus.).

Roger S Magnusson, Angels of death: exploring the euthanasia underground, Carlton South, 2002, front cover (colour illus., detail), back cover (colour illus.).

Janet McKenzie, Arthur Boyd: Art and life, 'Collaborative projects', pg.130-55, London, 2000, 139-140, 141 (colour illus.), 143.

Sam Neill, Celebrity choice: Sam Neill, Sydney, 1987, front cover (colour illus.). catalogue entry; no catalogue numbers; not paginated

Barry Pearce, Arthur Boyd retrospective, Sydney, 1993, cover (colour illus.), 108 (colour illus.). 108

Barry Pearce, Look, 'The legacy in Sydney Arthur Boyd', pg. 18-20, Melbourne, Jul 1999, 19 (colour illus.), 20.

Campbell Reid (Editor), The Weekend Australian, Sydney, 01 May 1999-02 May 1999, 23, 24 (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, 182 (colour illus., detail), 183 (colour illus.), 300.