The Premier, John Brumby, today presented an iconic Australian artwork, Sidney Nolan’s Kelly with Horse to the National Gallery of Victoria to mark next year’s 150th birthday celebrations.
Mr Brumby said Sidney Nolan’s Ned Kelly paintings were a significant part of Australia’s cultural history.
“They are also arguably some of the most sought-after paintings by Australian galleries,” Mr Brumby said.
“The NGV does not currently own any Ned Kelly paintings by Nolan, and Kelly with Horse will be a spectacular and important addition to our stunning collection.
“Our government has gifted this painting to the people of Victoria to mark the 150th anniversary of the NGV, a significant milestone in the state’s cultural history.
“At the Gallery, it can be enjoyed by thousands of Victorians and visitors. Last year over 765,000 people walked through NGV Australia’s doors.”
Mr Brumby said Kelly with Horse will undoubtedly become a major draw-card and a highlight of the NGV’s collection of 20th Century Australian art.
Minister for the Arts Peter Batchelor said the acquisition was a major boost for the Gallery’s Masterpieces for Melbourne campaign.
“The gift supports the NGV’s major fundraising campaign to acquire great artworks, and celebrates next year’s significant 150th anniversary of the Gallery,” Mr Batchelor said.
“This iconic work will now take pride of place in the NGV so Victorians and visitors to our state will be able to enjoy it.
“It is wonderful we have been able to secure this work for Victoria so it can hang alongside other well-loved Australian works such as Tom Roberts’ Shearing the rams, Frederick McCubbin’s The Pioneer and John Brack’s Collins St 5p.m.”
NGV Director Dr Gerard Vaughan said the painting, which came from a private collector, was from Nolan’s second Ned Kelly series of 1955, when the definitive, iconic image of the black-helmeted Kelly emerged.
“Sidney Nolan occupies a crucial place in the history of 20th century painting and it could be argued that his image of Ned Kelly is the one of best known subjects in the history of Australian art,” Dr Vaughan said.
“We are very grateful to the Victorian Government for purchasing this important work for the NGV, which will instantly become a major highlight of the NGV’s Australian Collection.”
Kelly with Horse will be on display at The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia and admission is free. The Masterpieces for Melbourne campaign was launched in 2008 and seeks to raise $150 million by the gallery’s 150th birthday in 2011.