Leda and the swan, Sidney Nolan
  • Artist
    Sidney Nolan
  • Born
  • Died
  • Title
    Leda and the swan
  • Date of Production
  • Medium
    synthetic polymer paint on masonite
  • Dimensions
    121 x 121 cm
  • Credit Details
    The William, Rene and Blair Ritchie Collection. Bequest of Blair Ritchie, 1998

Sidney Nolan

Leda and the swan

By the 1960s Sidney Nolan had established an international reputation as a painter and was living mainly in Britain. One of Nolan's first major series based on a subject/mythology that was not specifically Australian, Leda and the Swan is based on the Greek legend in which the King of Sparta's wife Leda was seduced by Zeus in the guise of swan. As with the Kelly series, which began in 1945 and re-emerged at different times throughout Nolans' career, so too did this one with precursors to the 1960s series being painted in 1945 and 1957.

This particular image, painted by Nolan while on a Harkness Fellowship funded sojourn in the US in 1958-60, is a richly coloured and patterned work in which the swan is depicted with its head thrust towards Leda who is half seated and half lying down.