Untitled (Turtles and Crocodiles) natural earth pigments on eucalyptus bark 27 x 59cm
PROVENANCE: Painted on Groote Eylandt in the early 1940s Private collection of the late Leonhard Adam
EXHIBITED: Museum of Ethnography at the University of Bonn, Germany, from the late 1950s - 1993 Brighton Museum and Art Gallery, Royal Pavilion Gardens, Brighton, United Kingdom, 1994 2011
LITERATURE: Leonhard Adam, Primitive Art, Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1949, p.180, referenced in the text.
In Adam's published book, Primitive Art, 1949 the anthropologist writes about this example stating, 'In contrast with the style of the Kakadu tribe on the mainland, where pictures are always painted either on plain bark or on a ground of red ochre, those of Groote Eylandt are done either on a black ground, which seems to be the earliest type, or on a bright yellow or a red ground. As I am writing this chapter I have in front of me a bark painting 23in. long and 10in. high, which is divided into two sections. On the left are three turtles on red ground, on the right two crocodiles on white ground, all the animals being painted in yellow, white and red. However, one can see that originally the whole ground had been painted in black, and the figures still have a narrow black frame, as it were, bringing out the bright contours more clearly. Evidently, however, the painter did not like the dull black ground, so he tried both red and white. The latter is quite unusual' (ibid:180).