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Australian art

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Escaped convict



Sidney Nolan

Australia, England

22 Apr 1917 - 28 Nov 1992


'Escaped convict' is part of a second series based on the legend of Mrs Fraser, which had captivated Nolan following his first visit to Fraser Island, Queensland in 1947.

In the legend, the brig 'Stirling Castle' ran aground off Great Sandy Island. The crew, including Captain and Mrs Fraser, abandoned ship and eventually landed on the northern tip of the island. Captain Fraser perished and the remaining survivors were captured by the island's Aboriginal inhabitants.

Mrs Fraser survived until her rescue by convict John Graham, who found her and brought her back to safety. Finding that Mrs Fraser had rescinded her promise to intercede for his free pardon, Graham then escaped the authorities, hiding in the impenetrable jungle of the island which today bears the name of his betrayer.

In this series, Nolan experimented with a new medium of oil mixed with polyvinyl acetate creating a soft, sensuous, translucent quality. This was a departure from the past two decades when the artist had relied on the fast-drying effects of Ripolin enamel which resulted in a flat, opaque surface. Here Nolan has scoured and scraped the paint away, creating an illusion of rich glaring light, rather like the effect of tempera or watercolour.

Australian Art Department, AGNSW, 2000




Media category


Materials used

polyvinyl acetate and oil on hardboard


152.3 x 122.0 cm board

Signature & date

Signed l.r., "N". Dated verso, "1962".


Purchased 1963


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Sidney Nolan

Artist profile

Works in the collection


Shown in 5 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 8 publications


Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of New South Wales picturebook, Sydney, 1972, 116 (colour illus.).

Art Gallery of New South Wales, 1962 Acquisitions, Sydney, 1963, 16. 17

Robyn Bondfield., Nolan's Fraser, 'Nolan's Fraser', South Brisbane, 1989, (colour illus.). not paginated

Elwyn Lynn, Hemisphere, 'Sidney Nolan: Myth-maker of Australian painting', pg. 18-25, Sydney, Oct 1963, 21 (illus.).

Hal Missingham, Sidney Nolan. Retrospective exhibition. Paintings from 1937 to 1967, 'Introduction', pg. 5-8, Sydney, 1967, 4 (illus.), 5, 22. 103

Hal Missingham (Editor), Art Gallery of New South Wales Quarterly, Sydney, Oct 1967, 369 (illus.).

Elwyn Lynn, Sidney Nolan - Australia, Sydney, 1979, 128, 129 (colour illus.).

Skinner Galleries, Perth, Nolan, Perth, 1962. 4; Priced in pen £1,800.