Norman Alfred William Lindsay is widely regarded as one of Australia’s greatest artists, producing a vast body of work in media ranging from etching, watercolor and oils to sculpture in concrete and bronze. Born in Creswick, Victoria in 1879, he influenced numerous artists; notably the illustrators Roy Krenkel and Frank Frazetta; he was also good friends with Ernest Moffitt.
His frank and sumptuous nudes were highly controversial; In 1940, his wife and model Rose Soady took sixteen crates of Lindsay’s paintings, drawings and etchings to the U.S. in order to protect them from the war. When the train they were on caught fire, the works were impounded and subsequently burned as pornography by American officials. Lindsay reportedly responded: “Don’t worry, I’ll do more.”
Accounts of his working practices in the 1920s claim that he “… would wake early and produce a watercolour before breakfast, then by mid-morning he would be in his etching studio where he would work until late afternoon. He would work on a concrete sculpture in the garden during the afternoon and in the evening write a new chapter for whatever novel he was working on at the time.”
Lindsay wrote the children’s classic The Magic Pudding, published in 1918. He also worked as an editorial cartoonist, often illustrating the racist and right-wing political leanings that dominated The Bulletin at that time; the “Red Menace” and “Yellow Peril” were popular themes in his cartoons. These attitudes occasionally spilled over into his other work, and modern editions of The Magic Pudding often omit one couplet in which “you unmitigated Jew” is used as an insult.
Lindsay was associated with a number of poets, such as Kenneth Slessor, Francis Webb and Hugh McCrae, influencing them in part through a philosophical system outlined in his book Creative Effort. He also illustrated the cover for the seminal Henry Lawson book, While the Billy Boils. Lindsay’s son, Jack Lindsay, emigrated to England, where he set up Fanfrolico Press, which issued works illustrated by Lindsay.