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Sidney Nolan

Australia, England

22 Apr 1917 – 28 Nov 1992

Artist profile

Alternate image of Island by Sidney Nolan
Alternate image of Island by Sidney Nolan
Alternate image of Island by Sidney Nolan
  • Details

    Other Title
    Fraser Island
    Media category
    Materials used
    Ripolin enamel on hardboard
    77.0 x 105.0 cm board; 85.2 x 113.2 x 2.2 cm frame
    Signature & date

    Signed l.r. corner, white paint "N". Not dated.

    Purchased with funds provided by the Art Gallery Society of New South Wales 2001
    Not on display
    Accession number
    © The Trustees of the Sidney Nolan Trust/DACS. Copyright Agency

    Reproduction requests

    Artist information
    Sidney Nolan

    Artist profile

    Works in the collection


  • About

    This bold composition, in which an isolated male figure has been placed in the dead centre of an empty seascape fringed with soft hills set against a pale violet sky is one of Nolan's most haunting images of the late 1940s. It is based on his visit to Fraser Island in North Queensland, which he visited in 1947, partly to investigate the accidental death of his brother Ray in Cooktown two years earlier.

    Nolan read about the story of the shipwrecked Englishwoman Eliza Fraser, who became stranded amongst local Aborigines and was rescued by escaped convict David Bracewell, and painted a series pertaining to the narrative. The figure could represent Bracewell, Nolan himself, or perhaps the ghost of the artist's brother. However, the abiding existential mood of this remarkable work transcends local legend, lifting it into the realm of metaphor about the fundamental condition of individual humanity.

    Australian Art Department, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 2001

  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 7 exhibitions

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 23 publications

Other works by Sidney Nolan

See all 140 works