Nolan was born in Melbourne, Australia in 1917. During the early 1940s he renounced his early abstract style and turned instead to the Australian themes which are central to his subsequent work. His principal subjects are the Australian landscape, and stories deriving from Australian history. A main source of inspiration was the legend of the nineteenth century Australian outlaw and folk hero Ned Kelly. Kelly was the leader of a gang of bank robbers whose daring exploits achieved notoriety. The metal body armour worn by the gang captured popular imagination. This painting relates to the Siege of Glenrowan in 1880, a gunbattle between the gang and police in which Kelly was finally captured.