2017 Sidney Nolan: “Footballer”

Sir Sidney Nolan was born in Carlton on the 22 April 1917. He grew up in St Kilda. With little formal art training, Nolan turned to painting at age 21 after varied experiences as a racing cyclist, cook, and gold miner. Nolan served in the Australian army from 1942 to 1945, during which time he began to paint the local desolate desert landscapes. His other works dealt with Australian historical or legendary characters and events—notably, the bushranger Ned Kelly a famous outlaw whose square helmet is an iconic image of Australia.

In 1946 he painted the Footballer. He first exhibited the painting with the title Fullback, St Kilda, which led to speculation that the footballer is based on Test cricketer and St Kilda fullback Keith Miller, of whom Nolan was a great fan. Nolan later revealed in an interview that St Kilda’s Bill Mohr is the subject saying “I lived in St Kilda and I went to a lot of matches there and they had a fullback called Billy Mohr and in 1946, after coming out of the army and casting back for memories to paint, I decided to paint him.”

The National gallery of Victoria acquired the painting in 2002 from a private collector. It was officially gifted to the gallery by ex premier Steve Bracks on the Channel Nine Footy Show. It became the first painting to go on display at the newly built Ian Potter Centre, home of the National Gallery of Victoria’s Australian art collection.

It was fitting that Australia Post issued the stamp on the 30 March 2017 almost exactly 100 years since his birth.

The issue is a joint issue of another famous Australian Impressionist Painter, Sir Arthur Streeton, who was born 150 years ago this year,

It was also the first day of the 2017 Melbourne Stamp and coin show held at the Caulfield Race Course over four days from the 30 March to 2 April 2017.

The initial thumbnail is the inside of the sheetlet pack. The next thumbnail is the front cover of the sheetlet pack, then the maximum card and lastly the thumbnail shows 4 FDCs, the top 2 postmarked with the FDI PM in black and green and the next 2 postmarked with the green 2017 Melbourne Collecting Day PM.

Sir Arthur Streeton

Sir Arthur Streeton was born on the 8 April 1867. One of Australia’s best known and most influential landscape painters, Arthur Streeton was a key member of the Heidelberg school of Australian impressionism – the first distinctively Australian school of painting. For many people, Streeton’s paintings defined a unique image of this country. Like Nolan he had little formal training. In 1889 Streeton was a key contributor, with Roberts, McCubbin, Conder and others, to The 9 by 5 impression exhibition in Melbourne, which consisted of impressions of bush and city life rapidly painted on cigar box lids – including The National Game (below) 1889 and A road to the ranges 1889. Note their are no behind posts. His naming of the painting was a prophetic statement for the future of AFL.

He also painted a scene of persons playing football in Richmond Paddock, the site of the initial game. It was called the Evening Game.

The stamp issue was to commemorate the 150th Anniversary of his birth. It shows the painting Near Heidelberg , which in 1890 was on the outskirts of Melbourne.

Sir Sidney Nolan and Sir Arthur Sreeton

The initial thumbprint above is the inside of the sheetlet pack. The next thumbprint is the front cover of the sheetlet pack and then the maximum card.

Visited 3 June 2019 NGV Federation Square 20th Century artists