Russell Drysdale – 'The Dead Bullock'

In 1944, Russell Drysdale was commissioned by the Sydney Morning Herald to record the severe drought afflicting New South Wales. He travelled to some of the affected areas and produced many of his most notable works in response to what he saw. 'The Dead Bullock' (1945) was one of them.

The dramatic image anticipates Sidney Nolan's 'Carcass' paintings of the early 1950s and alludes to the undulating curves of Henry Moore's reclining figures.

The work was first exhibited in Drysdale's solo exhibition at Macquarie Galleries in 1945. It remained unsold, probably because of its subject matter. In 1950 it was purchased by Justice John Flood Nagle AO QC, a lifelong friend of Drysdale's, trustee of the Art Gallery of New South Wales and supporter of the Albury Art Gallery.

'The Dead Bullock' came to the Gallery as part of Nagle's bequest of works from his private collection.