1958 Ripolin on board 47 ½ x 35 ½ in (120.5 x 90 cm)
Nolan’s Gallipoli series represents both a personal and public lament over the military campaign which cost so many lives. The Gallipoli Campaign took place at the peninsula of Gallipoli in the Ottoman Empire (in modern day Turkey) between 25 April 1915 and 9 January 1916, during the First World War. A joint British and French operation was mounted to capture the Ottoman capital of Constantinople and secure a sea route to Russia. The attempt failed, with heavy casualties on both sides. The campaign was the first major battle undertaken by the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC), and is often considered to mark the birth of national consciousness in both of these countries. The present work is a particularly haunting example from Nolan’s series; the soldier is painted in thin layers of blue and green which conjure forth a spectral figure that lacks the solidity of the real and alive. Clark has linked the tragic sense of loss in Gallipoli to Nolan’s stay with the novelist George Johnson on the Greek island of Hydra in 1956, where Nolan was struck by the similarities between the first Anzacs and the Homeric heroes. The Gallipoli series had particular personal relevance for Nolan as his brother Raymond was a soldier and died in a tragic accident just days before the end of WWII.