(b Melbourne, 22 Apr. 1917; d London, 28 Nov. 1992). The most internationally famous of Australian painters. He turned from odd jobs to art after attending night classes in Melbourne, and became a full-time painter when he was 21. His early work was abstract, but while serving in the Australian army (1941–5) he painted a series of landscapes of the Wimmera District of Victoria that gave the first unmistakable signs of the originality of his vision, capturing the heat and emptiness of the bush. In 1946 he began a series of paintings on the notorious bushranger Ned Kelly, who had become a legendary figure in Australian folk history, and it was with these works that he made his name. He returned to the Kelly theme throughout his career and he also drew on other events from Australian history.
Text source: The Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artists (Oxford University Press)