22 Apr 1917 - 28 Nov 1992
In June 1952 Sidney Nolan travelled to the Northern Territory and Queensland, under commission from the Brisbane Courier-Mail, to record the effects of severe drought in the north of the continent. 'Drought skeleton', with its heat-seared bony remains, is one of a number of stark, uncompromising paintings created out of this harrowing experience.
Nolan’s approach was influenced by a recent visit to Italy where, during a visit to Pompeii, he had gained a similar sense of life suddenly suspended following the eruption of Vesuvius in AD 79. The contorted forms of animals and humans petrified in the ashes – of which he’d seen plaster casts in the Pompeii museum – bore strong similarities to the twisted, yet still life-like, limbs of carcasses that resulted from drought.
oil on hardboard
90.5 x 121.0 cm board; 105.7 x 136.2 x 4.5 cm frame
Signature & date
Signed and dated lower c., yellow/ochre oil "NOLAN/ 53/ .".
Purchased with funds provided by the Nelson Meers Foundation 2002
© The Trustees of the Sidney Nolan Trust/Bridgeman Art Library
Shown in 6 exhibitions
Drought paintings by Sidney Nolan (1953), Peter Bray Gallery, Melbourne, 23 Jun 1953 -
Sidney Nolan: exhibition of paintings (1953), David Jones' Art Gallery, Sydney, Sydney, 29 Jul 1953–15 Aug 1953
Fifty years of The Macquarie Galleries: the third decade 1945-1955, Macquarie Galleries, Sydney, 07 May 1975–26 May 1975
'You beaut country': a selection of Australian art 1940-2000, Agnew's, London, London, 03 Oct 2001–26 Oct 2001
Sidney Nolan: Desert and Drought, Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia, Melbourne, 06 Jun 2003–17 Aug 2003
Sidney Nolan (2007-2008):