Sidney Nolan’s Ned Kelly series
For the first time in 15 years, the National Gallery of Australia’s collection of Sidney Nolan’s ‘Ned Kelly’ paintings is touring Australia in its entirety. The national tour gives Australians across the country the chance to experience some of the most famous and poignant masterpieces of 20th century Australian art.
While the Kelly paintings have been exhibited internationally at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, they have rarely visited the far corners of Australia.
From 1946–47, Nolan developed an original and starkly simplified image of Ned Kelly, which quickly became a national symbol—part of the shared iconography of Australia. The NGA acquired its first Ned Kelly work from the series in 1972, Death of Sergeant Kennedy at Stringybark Creek 1946. In 1977, Sunday Reed donated to the NGA 25 of the 27 paintings from Nolan’s first exhibited Kelly series. Together, these 26 paintings provide a masterclass on Australian art history and the development of a new figuration and landscape painting in Australian art.