#NOLAN100 - NO.63
Myth Rider, 1958
Desmond Browne, QC
"The first moment I saw Myth Rider conjured to mind a photograph in Alan Moorehead’s account of Gallipoli published in 1956. It is of a Light Horseman galloping along the beach carrying a dispatch from Suvla to Anzac Cove. Horse and rider are framed by the wooden crosses of recent graves.
My father, too, was a Light Horseman (though his two mounts were left at the Pyramids). So the sombre polyvinyl acetate tones of Myth Rider mean as much to me as they apparently did to Nolan. On the back of the painting done in New York at the start of 1959, he wrote: “Cynthia: NOT FOR SALE”.
Nolan’s single day on the Peninsula in 1956 must have been in his mind, when he donated over 250 Gallipoli paintings to the War Memorial in Canberra in 1978, commenting that Gallipoli was “the nearest thing to a deeply felt common religious experience for Australians – even today”.
Myth Rider is illustrated in the Thames and Hudson monograph of 1961, where Kenneth Clark commented on “the surprising disparity between conventional legend and Nolan’s imagination”. But Gavin Fry has pointed out how many of Nolan’s images are derived from photographs. Nolan, it seems, was not concerned with perpetuating a myth."
Desmond Browne QC, former Chairman of the Bar of England and Wales – particularly interested in Nolan’s works on the Gallipoli theme.
Sidney Nolan, Myth Rider, 1958, polyvinyl acetate on board, 122 x 152 cm, Private Collection, © Sidney Nolan Trust