Many of the greatest paintings by late Australian artist Sidney Nolan will be seen in public for the first time over the next two weeks.
A gallery in Sydney’s eastern suburbs has borrowed 30 of the artist’s works from private collections to mark the centenary of his birth next month.
“Each work is a masterpiece by Sidney Nolan. Each work is worthy of display in a public institution and that is the rationale to bring forward the greatest works that remain in private ownership,” said curator Geoffrey Smith, chair of Sotheby’s Australia.
Nolan, who died in 1992, was best known for his striking images of outlaw Ned Kelly and the Australian landscape.
His painting First-Class Marksman from 1946 achieved the highest price for an Australian work ever in 2010 – $5.4 million.
“We have a wall of Ned Kelly paintings from the 1950s and it is the most that have been shown together since 1955,” he said.
Works held in private collections for up to 70 years include never-before-publicly-seen paintings featuring Ned Kelly, Burke and Wills, and Australian landscapes with religious iconography.
The painter’s daughter, Jinx Nolan, travelled from the United States to see the exhibition.
She watched her father paint at their Sydney north shore home and even featured in some of his works.
The exhibition includes a colonial-looking work which depicts a father and a girl.
“It hasn’t been seen in public since 1946. I am meant to be that little girl feeding the birds,” she said.
“I think this show is very important because there are paintings that are hardly ever seen or never seen, and it is beautifully curated that they fit together.”
Ms Nolan said the exhibition was the only one in Australia to mark the centenary of her father’s birth in 1917, whereas there were several taking place in the UK.
“I think maybe he is taken for granted a little bit,” she said.
The Sidney Nolan: A Centenary Exhibition runs at the Sotheby’s Gallery in Woollahra until April 9.
Proceeds from the exhibition have been dedicated to the Opera Australia capital fund.