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Australian art

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Italian crucifix



Sidney Nolan

Australia, England

22 Apr 1917 - 28 Nov 1992


Nolan visited Italy in 1954 for a second time. He travelled extensively, fascinated by the religiousness and sense of antiquity that permeated its landscape and culture. 'Italian crucifix' is one of several paintings on the theme of a primitive crucifix that found its main source in the numerous wayside shrines of the south.

Flanked by selected instruments of the crucifixion, Nolan's central image of a face in the shape of a palette is suggestive of both Christ and the masked bushranger Kelly, adopted in the previous decade as the artist's alter ego. Set against ancient architectural fragments and the arid coastline of Puglia in southern Italy, it conveys what Nolan had felt so strongly to be the Christian/pagan spirit arising from the Italian landscape.




Media category


Materials used

enamel on hardboard


93.0 x 123.0 cm board; 107.0 x 137.0 x 5.0 cm frame

Signature & date

Signed and dated lower c., pencil "Nolan/ 15-4-44". Signed lower c., pale red synthetic polymer paint "n.".


Purchased with funds provided by the Nelson Meers Foundation 2001


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Sidney Nolan

Artist profile

Works in the collection


Shown in 1 exhibition

Exhibition history

Referenced in 22 publications


Brian Adams, Sidney Nolan: such is life, Melbourne, 1987, 130, 132. NOTE: General reference.

Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of New South Wales Annual Report 2002, 'Director's Statement', pg.4-7, Sydney, 2002, 6, 7 (colour illus.), 8.

Edmund Capon AM, OBE, Foundation Newsletter #2, Sydney, May 2003, (colour illus.).

Jane Clark, Sidney Nolan - landscapes and legends: a retrospective exhibition 1937 - 1987, Sydney, 1987, 123.

Sir Kenneth Clark, Bryan Robertson and Colin MacInnes, Sidney Nolan, London, 1961, 140. NOTE: General reference to Nolan's painting on this theme. Related photograph 'Crucifix, Southern Italy', 1954 on page 42.

Michael Gawenda (Editor in Chief), Age, 'AGNSW's new Nolan room', pg. 6, Melbourne, 22 Dec 2004, 6.

Peter Hill, The Sydney Morning Herald, 'Mix 'n' match', pg. 18, Sydney, 15 Jan 2005-16 Jan 2005, 18. Spectrum supplement of Saturday's edition.

Nicholas Isherwood, Nolan's Nolans: a reputation reassessed, London, 1997, 48, 49 (colour illus.). 49; dated 1955; priced £60,000.

Nicholas Isherwood, Nolan's Nolans: a reputation reassessed, London, 1997, 48 (colour illus.), 49. 49

Giucio Montagna (Editor), La Fiamma, 'Sydney [sic] Nolan at the Art Gallery of NSW', pg. 18, Leichhardt, 22 Dec 2004, 18.

Clare Morgan., The Sydney Morning Herald, 'Gallery sells off the family silver and strikes gold', Sydney, 21 Dec 2004.

Barry Pearce, Look, 'Gift of three Nolans', pg. 11-12, Sydney, Jul 2003, 12 (colour illus.).

Barry Pearce, Frances Lindsay, Lou Klepac and Edmund Capon AM, OBE, Sidney Nolan, Sydney, 2007, 48, 158, 163 (colour illus.), 235. 68

Donald Richardson, Art in Australia, Melbourne, 1988, 140, 142 (colour illus.). 12.1; Collection City of Hamilton Art Gallery; dated (1956)

T.G. Rosenthal, Sidney Nolan, 'Chapter nine: Nolan the nomad', pg. 173-187, London, 2002, 173,174, 175 (colour illus.), 176.

Marie Seton, The painter and sculptor, 'Sidney Nolan - An artist of the Antipodes', pg. 13-19, London, 1959, 13, 14, 19 (illus.). dated 1955; Collection Cynthia Nolan

Jill Skyes, Look, 'Doing justice to Nolan', pg. 8, Sydney, Mar 2005, 8.

Sebastian Smee'., The Australian, 'Gallery makes room for foundation's gift of Nolans', Sydney, 21 Dec 2004.

Sotheby's Australia, Sotheby's Melbourne: The Estate of Sir Sidney Nolan, Armadale, 2001, 30 (colour illus.). lot no. 16

Michael Stutchbury (Editor), The Australian, 'Nolan the nation's "greatest painter"', Sydney, 19 Dec 2004. NOTE: This article also appeared in Melbourne's 'Herald Sun' and 'Daily telegraph', Adelaide's 'Advertiser' and Brisbane's 'Courier mail', on 19 December 2004.

Jill Sykes, Look, 'Nolan's Australia', pg. 28-31, Sydney, Oct 2004, 30, 31 (colour illus.).

Whitechapel Art Gallery, Sidney Nolan: catalogue of an exhibition of paintings from 1947 to 1957, 'The Italian paintings', London, 1957, 16.