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Norman Lindsay (1879-1969)
Belshazzar
1934
watercolour
46.6 x 40.2 cm
Bequest of Howard Hinton 1948

 

Born 1879, Creswick, Victoria. Died 1969, Sydney, New South Wales.

Norman Arthur Lindsay was a prolific and well known Australian painter, illustrator, cartoonist, printmaker and watercolourist. His property at Springwood, where he lived and worked from 1913 to 1969, is now the Norman Lindsay Gallery and Museum.

Exposed to drawing and artmaking from an early age, Lindsay quickly took up working on press illustrations firstly with his brother Lionel in 1896, and later independently.

Lindsay’s work of the 1920s and 30s was often seen as scandalous, depicting nudity and themes of romance and exotic adventure that paralleled popular entertainment from cinema of the time. This sumptuous Biblical-themed watercolour, Belshazzar, depicts the 5th century BC Babylonian leader surrounded by his wives and concubines.

Norman Lindsay's relationship with Howard Hinton, art collector and public benefactor of the arts, spanned over 30 years until Hinton's death in 1948. As a connoisseur of Australian art, in a broad sense Hinton was Lindsay's patron, however this is not to suggest that Lindsay was either employed or commissioned by him to produce artworks. Hinton sought to assemble a representative collection illustrating the development of Australian art from 1880, but he essentially bought what he liked, and if in Norman Lindsay he recognised one of the great practitioners of his day, he also found one of his favourites.

This work by Lindsay was among Hinton’s most favoured works, hanging in his bedroom until Hinton’s death in 1948.