Important Australian Aboriginal Art
17 March 2021


(c.1910 – 1996)

synthetic polymer paint on linen

120.0 x 214.0 cm

bears inscription verso: artist’s name and Delmore Gallery cat. no. 0Q06

$250,000 – 350,000
Sold for $300,682 (inc. BP) in Auction 63 - 17 March 2021, Melbourne

Commissioned by Delmore Gallery, via Alice Springs, Northern Territory in December 1990
Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi, Melbourne
Private collection, Melbourne, acquired from the above in 1991


Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi, Melbourne, 1991

This work is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity from Delmore Gallery

Catalogue text

One year into Emily Kame Kngwarreye’s acrylic painting career, Early Summer Flowers, 1990, was the sixth work she created in the summer of 1990-91 for the Delmore Gallery via Alice Springs. The gallery’s documentation of the work records the artist painting ‘under the shelter of a huge camp-sheet whilst “follow-up” rain fell on newly sprouted native seedlings.’ This rain following on from the good winter rains earlier that year would guarantee a season of prolific growth of iylaw (Eastern Anamtyerr for munyeroo grass) and alyatywereng (woollybutt grass). The reference here lends the work a metaphysical association in so far as these grasses are the favoured food of emus, while the emu is an important ancestral being and the subject of several of the artist’s major works.

Ultimately, Early Summer Flowers is a celebration of the natural and spiritual wonders of Kngwarreye’s ancestral land of Alhalker (Alagura), the source of inspiration and focus of her art. The use of luscious viridian and greens in this painting was a recent introduction to the artist’s palette and reflects the colour of the desert landscape after the seasonal inundations. It puts a lie to the myth that the desert can be anything but green.

Early Summer Flowers belongs among a sequence of major works on a similar scale in which Kngwarreye celebrates the natural bounty of the desert in favourable seasons. Related works in this series include After Rain painted in the winter of 1990 (June) now in the collection of the National Gallery of Victoria,1 Seeds of Abundance, painted in October of that year, now in the collection of the National Gallery of Australia,2 and Alagura – My Country, painted in mid-summer, January 1991, in the collection of the Art Gallery of South Australia.3

1. Isaacs, J., T. Smith, J. Ryan et al., Emily Kngwarreye Paintings, Craftsman House, Roseville East, NSW, 1998, plate 7, p. 50 (illus.)
2. Ibid., plate 12, p. 57 (illus.)
3. See https://www.agsa.sa.gov.au/collection-publications/collection/works/alag...