A Guide to Collecting: Sidney Nolan

Sidney Nolan was one of Australia’s most significant modern artists; but with an oeuvre that is among the most diverse and prolific in all modern art it can be difficult to know where to start. Leonard Joel’s auction on the 19th of February in Sydney presents an excellent opportunity for young and established collector’s alike to acquire an original work of art by Sidney Nolan. Leonard Joel’s Head of Decorative Arts & Art, Madeleine Norton, offers some tips for prospective buyers on why a Nolan might be the right addition to your collection.

Sidney Nolan. Leonard Joel Auctions
SIDNEY NOLAN (1917-1992)
Bird 1969
mixed media on paper
$1,500-2,000
© The Sidney Nolan Trust. All rights reserved. DACS/Copyright Agency, 2024

 

1. A good entry point for new buyers
With low estimates starting at $600 there are many attractively priced artworks in the auction. These are all unique, original works of art by Nolan, not prints or reproductions. Many are smaller in size and all are already framed, ensuring they can seamlessly slot into your existing collection and decor. With such a variety in colour, composition and subject matter there are sure to be works to enhance your interior.

Sidney Nolan. Leonard Joel Auctions
SIDNEY NOLAN (1917-1992)
Kelly and Horse Crossing a River c.1961
mixed media on paper
$6,000-8,000

 

2. An important Australian artist with an international reputation
Sidney Nolan’s iconic Ned Kelly series has come to be emblematic of the Australian folklore and landscape, with the imagery instantly recognisable to many both inside and outside the art world. Nolan’s influences abound throughout not only the fine arts but also in cinematography, writing, theatre and even sporting – his painting projected at the 2000 Sydney Olympics opening ceremony. With a legacy that has been immortalised in countless forms of media, his market is sure to endure.

Sidney Nolan. Leonard Joel Auctions
SIDNEY NOLAN (1917-1992)
House Among Trees 1942
enamel paint on canvas sacking
$8,000-12,000
© The Sidney Nolan Trust. All rights reserved. DACS/Copyright Agency, 2024

 

3. Artistic and institutional recognition

In the auction you’ll find works from many of Nolan’s major series, of particular note are the early works from his career when he was at Heide which are rarely on the market as most are already owned by museums. It’s quite extraordinary that there are works in this sale produced by Nolan during his most famous period for under $1,000. Nolan’s work can be found in countless museums, public institutions and private collections both in Australia and abroad. Some major examples include: the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra; Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney; National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Tate Collection, London; and the Royal Academy of Arts, London. For his contributions to the arts Nolan was appointed CBE in 1963, made a Knight Bachelor in 1981 and awarded the Order of Merit in 1983. He was later made a Companion of the Order of Australia, elected an honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and a member of The Royal Academy of Arts.

Sidney Nolan. Leonard Joel Auctions
SIDNEY NOLAN (1917-1992)
Central Australia c.1968
mixed media on paper
$3,000-5,000
© The Sidney Nolan Trust. All rights reserved. DACS/Copyright Agency, 2024

 

4. Provenance

These works have all come from Nolan’s personal collection which was inherited by his widow, Lady Mary Nolan (1926-2016), and now belong to her estate. Lady Nolan was born Mary Boyd, the sister of Arthur Boyd. Her first husband was John Perceval, and she was immersed in the Australian and British artworld. She spent her adolescence and early adulthood involved with the famous Heide circle of artists. Lady Nolan had a deep understanding of her husband’s artistic output and after his death in 1992, she dedicated herself to preserving his legacy.

By Madeleine Norton, Head of Decorative Arts & Art, Sydney

Banner Image: SIDNEY NOLAN (1917-1992) House Among Trees 1942, enamel paint on canvas sacking. $8,000-12,000
© The Sidney Nolan Trust. All rights reserved. DACS/Copyright Agency, 2024

February 2024

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