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, including hours




Australian art

View More:


The cough...stone dust



Noel Counihan


04 Oct 1913 - 05 Jul 1986


"The human face has always been an obsession with me and to this very day I am still intensely interested in the face, its shape, its mobility, the way internal feeling is registered." (Bernard Smith, 'Noel Counihan, artist and revolutionary', Melbourne: OUP, 1993, pg. 500)

During the war, Counihan had visited the state Coal Mine at Wonthaggi Victoria, and made a number of drawings of the miners in his sketchbooks. Some of these were developed into paintings from 1945, and he used his memories of the trip and his sketchbooks, while making these linocuts in 1947. The series of six prints was exhibited at an exhibition of the Studio of Realist Art (established March 1945) at David Jones' Art Gallery, Sydney in August 1947, from which the Gallery bought its set. Counihan priced the set at five guineas - the inexpensive price was intended to make them accessible to a wider audience. It was printed by James E. Flett on his flatbed press, on heavy M G lithographic paper. One additional impression was printed by the artist in 1971 on Japanese paper for the Newcastle City Art Gallery. The block is extant. The print depicts a miner suffering from silicosis, an occupational lung disease developed by many miners, known colloquially as being 'dusted'.

Hendrik Kolenberg and Anne Ryan, 'Australian prints from the Gallery's collection', AGNSW, 1998




Media category


Materials used

linocut, printed in black ink on ivory lithographic paper




14.6 x 20.3 cm blockmark (irreg.); 27.3 x 30.8 cm sheet

Signature & date

Signed and dated l.r., pencil "Noel Counihan '47".


Purchased 1947


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Noel Counihan

Works in the collection


Shown in 2 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 5 publications


Renée Free, Modernism 1900-1950: prints and drawings from the collection, Sydney, 1994.

Kirsty Grant and Jason Smith, In relief: Australian wood engravings, woodcuts and linocuts, Melbourne, 1997, 44 (colour illus.). Collection of the National Gallery of Victoria

Hendrik Kolenberg and Anne Ryan, Australian prints from the Gallery's collection, Sydney, 1998, 80 (illus.). 67

John Slater, Through artists' eyes: Australian suburbs and their cities 1919-1945, 'The city observed to the city experienced', pg. 71-100, Melbourne, 2004, 78, 79 (colour illus.). This is the NGV's impression of this print.

Peter Ward, The Weekend Australian magazine, 'Noel Counihan: A painter of class', pg. 24-28, Sydney, 16 Oct 1993-17 Oct 1993, 26 (colour illus.).