Icebound ship, Antarctica 1964 signed with initial 'N' lower right; signed and dated 'Nolan / April 1964' verso oil on board 121.0 x 121.0cm (47 5/8 x 47 5/8in).
EXHIBITED Exhibition of Paintings of Antarctica by Sidney Nolan, R G Menzies Library, Australian National University, Canberra, 17-26 June 1965 Sidney Nolan, Australian Galleries, Melbourne, 21 September 1 October 1965, cat. no. 2 (not for sale) Antarctic Paintings by Sidney Nolan, The Bonython Art Gallery, Adelaide, 15 November 2 December 1965, cat. no. 2 (not for sale) Sidney Nolan: Antarctica, The Fermoy Gallery, King's Lynn, Norfolk, 8 August 1 September 1984, cat. no. 14 Sidney Nolan: Antarctic Series, Nolan Gallery, Lanyon, Australian Capital Territory, 4 June 7 September 1986, cat. no. 7
LITERATURE John Bechervaise, 'Antarctica: the new down under', Bulletin, Sydney, 3 July 1965 (illus. cover) as 'Antarctica' Elwyn Lynn, Sidney Nolan Myth and Imagery, Macmillan, London, 1967, pp. 45, 86 (illus.), as 'Antarctica' Bernard Smith, 'Nolan as mythmaker', Bulletin, Sydney, 7 October 1967, p. 79 (illus.) as 'Ship in the ice' Donald Brook, 'The haunted cold', Canberra Times, Canberra, 17 June 1965, p. 25 (illus.) Alan McCulloch, 'A great documentary artist', Herald, Melbourne, 22 September 1965, p. 15 Bernard Smith 'Nolan (without heroes) in trouble', Age, Melbourne, 22 September 1965, p. 5 Rodney James, Sidney Nolan - Antarctic Journey, Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery, Mornington, 2006, cat. no. 4, pp. 11-12, 71
In 1964 Nolan visited Antarctica, fulfilling a boyhood passion for the continent and the story of its explorers: Shackleton, Scott and Mawson. Like his other series dealing with mythologised historical characters (Kelly, Burke and Wills, the ANZAC soldiers, Mrs Fraser and Bracefell) Nolan combined narrative works and landscapes in his Antarctic series.
The present work, one of the first painted in the series and the only one depicting this subject, is loosely based on images by Australian photographer Frank Hurley of Shackleton's ship Endurance trapped in ice in 1915.
"Nolan looks at the scene retrospectively through the eyes of Scott, Shackleton and Admunsen to find an icebound ship, whose furled gold-green sails are hoisted like standards arrayed in grim battle with the blizzards, or a blue headland projected into the frozen sea-scape like a hump-backed whale." Alan McCulloch, September 1965, quoted in Rodney James, Sidney Nolan - Antarctic Journey, Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery, Mornington, 2006, p. 47.
Other works in the Antarctic series, also based on early photographs, depict Antarctic camps, an explorer on a pony and explorers' heads.