An image of Colonial head

Sidney Nolan

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

Colonial head

Not on display
Further information

Nolan made several portraits of bushrangers and of an unmasked Ned Kelly. 'Colonial head' was painted as Nolan drew towards the end of his major Kelly series of 1946-47. The tie may derive from composite police photographs of the outlaw in which his head was collaged to the bodies of others, for identification purposes.

However, this painting may be as much about Nolan himself as any bushranger. It has a certain psychological intensity relating to the artist's personal situation at this time. The atmosphere at Heide, where he was living with his patrons John and Sunday Reed, had become emotionally claustrophobic and would end in his permanent departure for Sydney only three months later.

Ripolin enamel on cardboard
76.2 x 65.5 cm board; 87.0 x 74.8 x 5.1 cm stretcher
Signature & date

Signed and dated l.r. corner, pencil "Nolan 1947".
Signed and dated l.l. corner verso on board, red crayon "4.4.47/ nolan".

Purchased with funds provided by the Art Gallery Society of New South Wales 2001
Accession number
© The Trustees of the Sidney Nolan Trust/Bridgeman Art Library