In the lead up to Anzac Day, the Australian War Memorial
has acquired a painting by celebrated artist Sidney Nolan relating to Australian service on Gallipoli during the First World War.
The work depicts stretcher-bearer John Simpson Kirkpatrick and his donkey, and is inscribed on the back with the words: Gallipoli painting, property of Maie Casey. Maie with love from Sidney
Casey was the daughter of Dr Charles Ryan, who served as a medical officer with Anzac forces on Gallipoli. Maie herself served as a VAD nurse in the First World War and later married Richard Casey, who became Governor-General in 1965.
Purchased from the Bridget McDonnell Gallery in Melbourne some years ago by Dr Ian Favilla, the painting has been since held by the Favilla family. Recently, the family made the decision to donate this important work to the Memorial.
Memorial Director Dr Brendan Nelson said the Memorial was excited to accept a work from one of Australias most complex, innovative, and prolific artists.
It is an honour to receive such a unique piece relating so closely to the Memorials existing collection and with such great provenance. The painting speaks to the Memorials mission, and is a particularly pertinent acquisition during the centenary of the First World War and Sidney Nolans birth.
Nolan completed this work as part of a large series of paintings on the subject of Gallipoli, most of which depicted soldiers and landscapes. While other well-known depictions of Simpson picture the soldier astride or alongside his donkey, Nolans work features Simpson carrying the donkey across his shoulders.
Gallipoli was a subject to which Nolan often returned throughout his artistic career, and in 1978 he presented many of the works from his Gallipoli series to the Memorial.