An image of Walls of China

Russell Drysdale

(England, Australia 07 Feb 1912 – 29 Jun 1981)

Walls of China

Other titles:
The Walls of China, The Walls of China (Gol Gol), Walls of China Gol Gol
20th & 21st c Australian art
Further information

'... it has been one long tragedy-track over scorched earth ... a nightmare journey through a day-long dust storm ... The sky appears leaden, like a snow sky in Europe, or is crossed by great bands of black, red and grey ... Dead trees, a tragic number, loom through the murk in a variety of fantastic shapes.'
- Keith Newman 1944

A series of dry seasons culminated in a year of severe drought, the worst on record, in western New South Wales in 1944. Towards the end of the year the Sydney Morning Herald commissioned Drysdale to accompany reporter Keith Newman and a photographer to cover the story. During their journey they camped one night at Lake Mungo in the remote west of the state, where an extensive sand dune called 'The Walls of China' was located.

Publication of Drysdale's drawings led to recognition of his great skill as a draughtsman, while his extraordinary experience also inspired a series of paintings. In 'Walls of China', perhaps the most spectacular work in this drought series, Drysdale transformed elements of the natural landscape into iconic symbols, marking the emergence of his mature vision of Australia as a timeless continent.

oil on hardboard
75.9 x 101.0 cm board; 95.0 x 121.1 x 5.2 cm frame
Signature & date

Signed l.r. corner, black oil "Russell Drysdale". Not dated.

Purchased 1945
Accession number
© Russell Drysdale Estate