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Norman Lindsay - Hyperborea

Etching, engraving and stipple on paper
34.3 x 29.6 cm
Edition: 45 (55)
Reference: Norman Lindsay Etchings: Catalogue Raisonné (Odana Editions and Josef Lebovic Gallery, 2006, cat.247)

Norman translated his passion for Greek myths into numerous pictures. The ancient Greeks believed that their country was in the centre of an earth which was flat and circular, in the middle of which was Mount Olympus, home of the gods, or Delphi, with its oracle. The northern section of this earth was inhabited by a race of people called Hyperboreans. They were blissfully content, living in a state of perpetual happiness in a year-long season of Spring. They did not age, suffer from disease, or wage war.

Norman wrote two essays about Hyperborea, the first published in Vision, No. 2, August 1923, a month after his etching Hyperborea was first exhibited in Sydney. The essays were later published as Hyperborea: Two Fantastic Travel Essays by Fanfrolico Press in 1928. In the first essay Norman said that to describe Hyperborea a picture or a poem is essential.

Norman described the idyllic Hyperborean landscape and the composition of his etching: One of the charms of Hyperborea is that the landscape disposes itself about the people ... Paths are designed only in places where it is essential to have people walking on them, and where it is felt desirable to centralise the prospect there is always a fountain or pergola about which to group your figures. Whenever it is necessary to break a line, or fill a space ... an urn or statue sprouts in the spot instantly ... there were girls everywhere in the landscape, some vanishing into light, and some discreetly settling into the dark tones, but most of them well in the foreground and taking up all the central positions.

He concentrated on the foreground: I prefer to sit well in the foreground of a Hyperborean landscape, for not only are the most important ladies grouped there, but the attitudes are recumbent, and the tone is pleasantly shaded, in order to get rid of the corners ... For all curves here, you will understand, gravitate about a special centre, selected for the occasion, where the landscape is lightest and the activity greatest.

Hyperborea required painstaking needling to achieve the softly stippled effects, and took several months to etch. It was a difficult etching to print, and at first Rose though she would not be able to pull more than forty-five prints from the plate but in the end she was able to extend the edition to fifty-five. Hyperborea is reminiscent of the work of Gustav Dore with its mastery in the handling of massed groups of figures and sense of limitless space. With its Grecian columns, shrine of Apollo and serene people in beautiful gardens, the etching is faithful to the land of Hyperborea described in legend, song and Norman's imagination.
Price: AU$15,000.00 mounted
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Original etching