In the last years of his life, deteriorating health prompted Friend to turn to the more immediate convenience of still life as a subject for painting. He produced some of his most beautiful watercolours during this period when, as he wrote poignantly in his book 'Art in a Classless Society' published in 1985:
"Did I retire or was I exiled from that garden of earthly joys? ... Farewell to youth then. And to the Nude ... In life as in art, much of what we accept is a barely adequate substitute for something we would rather have.
The greengrocer's shop is crammed with colourful models, attractive vegetable rivals to those warm blooded bipeds in blue jeans who lean provocatively against lamp posts playing pocket billiards or to the polychrome butterfly painted ladies clad in varieties of musical comedy drag ... For sheer loveliness the fruit and vegetables win hands down."
watercolour on white wove paper
56.5 x 75.5 cm sheet; 79.0 x 98.0 x 2.3 cm frame
Signature & date
Signed l.r. corner, pen and black ink ".../ Donald Friend". Not dated.
Not on display
© Reproduced with permission of the Estate of Donald Friend. Licensed by Viscopy, Sydney.
Shown in 4 exhibitions
Older Australian masters: an exhibition of works by major Australian artists executed in the later years of their careers, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 16 Mar 1992–12 Apr 1992
Australian watercolours 1880s to 1990s:
Inside Out: Still Life and Interiors Post 1950, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 31 Jul 1999–31 Jan 2000
Margaret Olley and Donald Friend (2006):
Referenced in 5 publications
Christine France, Parallel visions: works from the Australian collection, 'Donald Friend / Margaret Olley', pg. 128-139, Sydney, 2002, 132, 133 (colour illus.), 143, 147.
Barry Pearce., Older Australian masters: an exhibition of works by major Australian artists executed in the later years of their careers, 'Preface', Sydney, 1991, (colour illus.). not paginated, no catalogue numbers
Barry Pearce, Donald Friend Retrospective 1915-1989, 'Introduction', pg. 9-20, Sydney, 1990, 125 (colour illus.). cat.no. 105
Australian watercolours 1880s to 1990s, Sydney, 1995, 93 (colour illus.), 123. cat.no. 83
Twentieth century Australian watercolours from the collection, Sydney, 1989. cat.no. 18