Monday, October 17, 2011

Norman Lindsay

Norman Lindsay ( 22 February 1879 –  21 November 1969) is one of the artists that inspired Roy Krenkel and Frank Frazetta. Lindsay’s bawdy portrayal of myth and pagan beliefs fueled his art and created controversy in his time. Some of his work was removed from a train wreck in route to an exhibition and burned by over zealous censors who deemed it pornographic. Yes - that happened here in the States. Although mild by today's standards his unique personal vision is contagious in it’s free exploration of the primitive animal drive and pagan eroticism. He worked in a variety of mediums including sculpture and was also an accomplished writer and illustrator.

If you get a chance - rent the movie “Sirens” which is based on the life of Norman Lindsay. Don’t watch the censored version on television because it changes and skews the actual meaning of the film. The movie stars Hugh Grant, Sam Neil and a bevy of super models. A great film score by Rachel Portman (Cider House Rules). and... the movie poster absolutely sucks. Why didn’t they use one of Norman’s paintings?

There is also a museum dedicated to his work in Australia. The museum is located on the grounds of his estate and home in Faulconbridge, New South Wales in the Blue Mountains National Park region.

Wiki Link
Norman Lindsay Bio
Norman Lindsay Museum and Gallery

Here is a small sampling of Mr. Lindsey’s work:


  1. I'd never heard of this chap before, really interesting stuff, yes you can definitely see how he has influenced Frazetta, and probably quite a few others since too - particularly in the pen and ink work (if that 'speedy' tonal lineation is a technique/look which originated with him). Great stuff! Really like it, thanks for posting this.

    Bit of a tangent, but has anyone heard of F Von Stassen (1869–1949), a german artist that did some great illustrations for Wagners ring, I really like his style but can't seem to find/see much of his artwork anywhere?

  2. I really enjoy these posts about the artists that have inspired you guys. As someone still trying to figure out my artistic style and process seeing as many fantastic artists as possible feels very important and Lindsay is a great one to add to the list.

    Keep up the fantastic work!

  3. Is there any chance that there is an online gallery of his work? His website has some but I was hoping for a more complete catalog.

  4. I am Aussie and remember being creeped out by his classic children's book The Magic Pudding as a kid, but despite growing up in the Blue Mountains I have never actually been to his gallery. I have only seen his work in the Art Gallery of NSW in Sydney. Gorgeous stuff. Next time I visit back home I'd better go out to Faulconbridge. Thanks for the reminder.

  5. Nice post, John, thanks. Lindsey is so painfully underated. A great artist!

    Here's a nice hi-res of one of his rarely seen pirate paintings:

    Best wishes,


  6. Hey Patrick - As a native Aussie ( pronounced - Auzzee, I've been corrected on that!), you have first hand experience visiting his estate. I admire the private world and environment he created there. I thought it was beautifully captured in the movie through atmosphere and symbolic vignettes. Looks like they filmed the majority of the movie at Mr. Lindsay's estate.

    Toria - Get yer butt down there ... I know if I lived nearby I'd probably hang out at the Cafe that's located down the road from his home, studio/museum.

    Jared - I think there is a book of his collected works. Lindsay"s etchings are on par with Rembrandt and Dürer.

  7. The heritage listed Lindsay Estate really is a beautiful and inspiring location (around an hour from Sydney) and a must visit if you are heading up to the Blue Mountains.
    I visit regularly, the gardens are pleasant especially on a spring day and the walks around the grounds/escarpment feel quite remote.
    His painting studio remains 'as is' in its original condition with easels and work in progress.
    He was an editorial cartoonist, illustrator, sculptor and writer and It is interesting to see an artist of that era who was recognised as a commercial illustrator and fine artist. He was associated with many of the established fine artists of the time and also supported by Authur Streeton- recognised as one of Australia's best landscape painters.
    Good to see a write up on Muddy Colours about Norman Lindsay.

  8. Fabulous post, Jon!

    I LOVE this guy's work and didn't know about any of this. Can't wait to read more.

    I've owned a copy of the film since it came out. Love the soundtrack....Rachel Portman's work is phenomenal.


  9. ev - Thanks for the additional info.

    Greg - I have the soundtrack but not the movie. I'll have to order it on-line. Although I can watch it on Netflix.

    Ms. Portman composes on piano rather than the huge digital apparatus that Hans Zimmer uses. Her material has a nice acoustic center and intimacy not often found in soundtracks today.


  10. I am a big fan of this blog and many of Mr. Palencar's book covers, but I'm a bit disappointed by this post. I can see the merit in this artist's abilities to create believable figures and compositions, but the art left me feeling worse rather than better. I think the human figure should be studied and respected. This stuff doesn't uplift the viewer or the subject. I don't think nudity is bad, but this is much closer to porn than art. I know this isn't a popular view point, but I had to put in my two cents.

  11. Cassie - Thank you for the compliment. In regard to Mr. Lindsay's work... you don't have to like everything. I once had an Art History professor that said you didn't have to like everything just because it was in out text book for the class.- and that's a good thing. Norman Lindsay was a self declared pagan... so he's being true to himself. He was also a children's book author and illustrator - go figure. I think more than a few folks would disagree with your opinion on his work. So - to each his own!

  12. I live in Faulconbridge, Norman's gallery is just down the road from me and I've visited it several times during my life. It's well worth stopping by if you're ever in the area.

    A few of my colleagues have dismissed his work as essentially escapist fantasy. But if he could make a handsome living immersing himself in something he loved then well done.

    He was a very diverse and extremely prolific artist who could easily produce two or three paintings a day, he'd typically complete a watercolour before breakfast. He's most famous as a painter but I think he is more remarkable as a pen illustrator and etcher, his etchings are amazing, the amount of detail he crammed onto tiny copper plates. He sculpted in cement and cast metal amongst other materials, built really incredible model ships, wrote numerous books including children's classic The Magic Pudding, and was a boxer in his youth.
    Definitely a Renaissance man.

    His drawing always amaze me with their liveliness and simplicity, the seeming effortless technique they've been executed with.

    I've never come across any decent collections of images of his work online, you might find something in the online catalogues of Australian galleries, like the Art Gallery of New South Wales. Otherwise, books would be your best bet if you want to see his work. Whether it's pen and ink drawings, propaganda posters, watercolours, editorial cartoons, or oil paintings, they're worth the effort to track down.

  13. Well I took your advice. I've just attended a 4-day life drawing workshop at the Norman Lindsay gallery! It was outstanding! And was held entirely outdoors in the gardens. (In weather around 100F!) Amazing gallery, inspiring location, great teachers & classmates. I think I have just found my annual holiday! HIGHLY recommend :D So a big thank you to Mr Palencar for reminding me this artist and his gallery existed!


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