An image of Drought skeleton

Sidney Nolan

(Australia, England 22 Apr 1917 – 28 Nov 1992)

Drought skeleton

Other titles:
Carcass, Drought
20th & 21st c Australian art
Further information

In June 1952 Sidney Nolan travelled to the Northern Territory and Queensland, under commission from the Brisbane Courier-Mail, to record the effects of severe drought in the north of the continent. 'Drought skeleton', with its heat-seared bony remains, is one of a number of stark, uncompromising paintings created out of this harrowing experience.

Nolan’s approach was influenced by a recent visit to Italy where, during a visit to Pompeii, he had gained a similar sense of life suddenly suspended following the eruption of Vesuvius in AD 79. The contorted forms of animals and humans petrified in the ashes – of which he’d seen plaster casts in the Pompeii museum – bore strong similarities to the twisted, yet still life-like, limbs of carcasses that resulted from drought.

oil on hardboard
90.5 x 121.0 cm board; 105.7 x 136.2 x 4.5 cm frame
Signature & date

Signed and dated lower c., yellow/ochre oil "NOLAN/ 53/ .".

Purchased with funds provided by the Nelson Meers Foundation 2002
Accession number
© The Trustees of the Sidney Nolan Trust/Bridgeman Art Library