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Australian art

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The fortune teller



Donald Friend


06 Feb 1915 - 16 Aug 1989


Donald Friend’s 'The fortune teller' was painted in Brisbane after he and I had been on a painting trip to North Queensland. Donald was looking through Life magazines and saw some photographs of an Indian ceremony which included elephants decorated with elaborate designs. Donald was fascinated and later incorporated the patterns into this painting.

Margaret Olley, 2000




Media category


Materials used

oil on canvas on hardboard


66.0 x 96.5 cm board; 86.1 x 117.7 x 5.9 cm frame

Signature & date

Signed l.r. corner, white oil "DONALD FRIEND". Not dated.


Purchased 1956


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Donald Friend

Artist profile

Works in the collection


Shown in 6 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 10 publications


Helen Campbell, Australian art: in the Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'Out of Sydney: city and hinterlands', pg. 185-186, Sydney, 2000, 206 (colour illus.), 300.

Christine France, Parallel visions: works from the Australian collection, 'Donald Friend / Margaret Olley', pg. 128-139, Sydney, 2002, 130 (colour illus.), 132, 143, 147.

Lou Klepac, Donald Friend: a charmed life, Canberra, 2006. Checklist of works.

Macquarie Galleries, Donald Friend (1956), Sydney, 1956. 19

National Art Gallery of New South Wales, Purchases and Acquisitions for 1956 National Art Gallery of N.S.W., Sydney, 1956, 6. 6

Margaret Olley, Favourites: Margaret Olley and Barry Humphries choose from public and private collections, 'Introduction', pg. 1-3, Sydney, 2000, 2. Catalogue entry appears in inserted list to printed catalogue

Barry Pearce, Donald Friend Retrospective 1915-1989, Sydney, 1990, 84 (colour illus.). 63

Laurence Thomas., Contemporary Australian painters, 'Foreword', Ottawa, 1957, (illus.). 36, 10

Editor Unknown (Editor), Daily telegraph and daily news, Sydney, 30 May 1956.

Editor Unknown (Editor), The Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney, 30 May 1956.