Skip to content

Update from the Gallery regarding COVID-19

The Art Gallery of New South Wales is open. We are observing strict physical distancing and hygiene measures to protect the health of visitors and staff and minimise the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus). Read the latest visit information




Australian art

View More:


Corn cobs



Nora Heysen


11 Jan 1911 - 30 Dec 2003


After studying abroad, Nora Heysen returned to Australia in late 1937 and revisited her old studio at Hahndorf, where she was raised in the Adelaide Hills. It was here that she painted a number of exceptional, high-keyed works, including 'Corn cobs', one of her most dynamic compositions to date, before settling in Sydney the following year.

With sumptuous, vivid colour, the painting captures the abundance of fresh corn, demonstrating Heysen's ability to source subjects from her immediate surroundings. Strong diagonal lines, created by the arrangement of the corn, heighten the dynamism of the composition. The pictorial surface is animated with short brushstrokes – exemplifying the artist's impressionistic approach – while the interplay between tone, form and light evokes a sense of immediacy in the work.




Media category


Materials used

oil on canvas


40.5 x 51.3 cm stretcher; 51.8 x 63.0 x 4.8 cm frame

Signature & date

Signed and dated l.r. corner, blue oil "NORA HEYSEN/ 1938".


Purchased 1987


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Nora Heysen

Artist profile

Works in the collection


Shown in 5 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 12 publications


Christine Dixon and Dinah Dysart, Counterclaims: presenting Australian art 1938-1941, Sydney, 1986, 19 (illus.), 46. AAA27

Deborah Edwards, Australian art: in the Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'Classical allusions', pg. 135-136, Sydney, 2000, 143 (colour illus.), 300.

Sasha Grishin, Australian art: a history, 'The Great Depression and the war', pg. 274-285, Carlton, 2013, 283 (colour illus.), 285, 550, 562. plate no. 28.6

Janet Hawley, Good Weekend, 'The other Heysen', pg. 34-38, Sydney, 27 Jun 1998, 37 (colour illus.).

Jane Hylton, Nora Heysen: light and life, 'A wealth of experience: Sydney and World War Two', pg. 31-38, Kent Town, 2009, 33, 64 (colour illus.).

Lou Klepac, Art and Australia (Vol. 41, No. 4), 'Nora Heysen 1911-2003', pg. 555, Sydney, Jun 2004-Aug 2004, 555 (colour illus.).

Lou Klepac, Nora Heysen, 'Nora Heysen', pg. 1-6, Canberra, 2000, 4, 5, 29 (colour illus.), 51.

Hendrik Kolenberg, Look, 'Heysen to Heysen: letters across a generation', pg. 33-36, Sydney, Mar 2012, 35 (colour illus.).

Barry Pearce, Look, 'Nora Heysen 1911-2003: an artist in her own right', pg. 18-19, Sydney, May 2004, 18 (colour illus.).

Barry Pearce, Look, 'The Lowy, Gonski Gallery', pg. 37, Sydney, Dec 2005-Jan 2006, 37.

Catherine Speck, Heysen to Heysen: selected letters of Hans Heysen and Nora Heysen, 'Introduction', pg. 1-19, Canberra, 2011, 14.

Anne-Louise Willoughby, Nora Heysen: a portrait, Fremantle, 2019, 69 (colour illus.).