Important Australian + International Fine Art
28 August 2013


(1917 - 1992)

Ripolin enamel on composition board

64.0 x 76.0 cm

signed, dated and inscribed verso: Nolan / Dimboola / 1943 / for Amelda / with love / from Sidney / 6 may 1977 / xx

$100,000 - 120,000

Gifted to the artist's daughter, Melbourne, 1977
Private collection, Melbourne
Deutscher~Menzies, Melbourne, 4 June 2003, lot 38
Private collection, Sydney


On long-term loan to The Ian Potter Museum of Art, The University of Melbourne, Melbourne

Catalogue text

Ironically, Sidney Nolan's Wimmera paintings of the early 1940s owe their origin to the Australian army into which the artist was conscripted in 1942. Sent to Dimboola, his guard and other duties allowed him plenty of time to paint, resulting in a period of intense creativity. Here, Nolan forged anew an image of the Australian landscape from the raw and uncompromising scene around him, its chief feature being its monotonous flatness. Writing about Nolan's art in a 1943 issue of Angry Penguins, Albert Tucker saw 'the development of an individual perception of a very high order, and ... the steady growth of a rare lyrical talent, maturing in his Nhill and Dimboola landscapes. Here ... we glimpse for the first time since Roberts, McCubbin and early Streeton, the return of an authentic national vision on a higher and more independent level.'1

Stationed periodically in the Wimmera towns of Horsham, Nhill and Dimboola, Nolan painted such strikingly individual works as those now in the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne - Going to School (two versions) 1942, and the 1943 paintings Railway Yards, Dimboola, Flour Lumper, Dimboola, and After Grassfire, among others. Just east of Nhill he painted the visually arresting Kiata, 1943, in the collection of Canberra's National Gallery of Australia, and the confronting Self Portrait, 1943, naive in conception, obsessive, and unforgettable. In Dimboola in May 1942, he wrote, 'Being out in the open on top of the loaded trucks and the wind icy it seems to intensify looking at the fields. There is so little to break the vision and the whole landscape appears to surround you everywhere except the particular minute patch that is yourself.'2 Dimboola, 1943 differs from Nolan's landscapes in being full of people, the spontaneity with which it is realized being aided by the fluid and quick drying Ripolin enamel used. The liveliness of brush strokes and overall painterly activity harmonise perfectly with the subject - people coming out in the freshness of the evening air to socialize after the scorching heat of the day. Particularly decorative notes are provided by the patterns of the women's dresses as the pulse of life is captured in the feel of the paint. The range of colours is wider and more lyrically inclined than in his other Wimmera paintings, the exception being another Dimboola, 1944, painted after Nolan returned to Melbourne. Dimboola, 1943, however, has a special claim to fame in witnessing the first appearance of the image that later made Nolan internationally famous. The enigmatic red shape rising above the horizon on the far right, Nolan commented some time later, represents the first appearance of the image of Ned Kelly in his art.

1. Albert Tucker, Angry Penguins 5, quoted in Clark, J., Sidney Nolan: Landscapes and Legends, International Cultural Corporation of Australia Limited, Sydney, 1987, p. 42
2. Sidney Nolan, Dimboola, 24 May 1942, quoted in Clark, op. cit., p. 54