Sir Sidney Nolan
Camel and Figure 1966

Artwork details

Sir Sidney Nolan 1917–1992
Camel and Figure
Date 1966
Medium Oil paint on hardboard
Dimensions Support: 1210 x 1219 mm
frame: 1231 x 1231 x 37 mm
Acquisition Presented by Lord McAlpine of West Green 1983
Not on display

Display caption

'Camel and Figure' is one of many paintings by Nolan inspired by the story of the explorers Burke and Wills. In 1860 Robert O'Hara Burke and William Wills set out from Melbourne, aiming to cross Australia from south to north. This involved traversing the vast inhospitable desert of inland Australia. The expedition was doomed from the start. Both were inexperienced, travelling at the wrong time of year, overloaded with wrong provisions, and with quarrelsome subordinates. Burke and Wills both perished. This painting depicts Burke with one of the 27 camels which formed the cavalcade. According to legend, stripping is the last act of a man dying in the desert. Burke's nakedness thus signals disaster.

August 2004

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