Norman Alfred Williams Lindsay was born in Creswick, Victoria on the 23rd of February 1879. He died at Springwood, New South Wales on the 21st of November 1969. He was a pen-draughtsman, etcher, painter, sculptor and writer.
A natural eclectic, with a genius for adapting the styles to which he was attracted, Lindsay assimilated the influences of Menzel, Vierge, Böcklin, Beardsley, Sandys, May, Keene, Schwabe and Rubens, and many others. Keenly promoted by his brother Lionel, his work developed at a time when the invention of the line-block, new methods of photographic reproduction and the publication of large numbers of illustrated books and periodicals drew the attention of artists throughout the world to the advantages of black-and-white illustration. In his early days in Melbourne he led a Bohemian life with other members of the Cannibal Club (q.v.). During this period he lived at Charterisville with his brother Lionel, Ernest Moffitt and others, and the activities of the group resulted in one of his first written and illustrated books, A Curate in Bohemia. Another early venture was a set of illustrations to the Decameron of Boccaccio which led, through Julian Ashton, to a staff job on the Sydney Bulletin.
He engaged in a life-long private campaign against hypocrisy and “wowserism”, and introduced to Australia an arcadian “hyperborean” world inhabited by nude nymphs and satyrs and modelled on the voluptuous paintings of Rubens, and the Swiss, Arnold Böcklin. The uninhibited nature of Lindsay’s work earned the censure of religious organisations and moralists, but its eroticism was widely overlooked in official quarters, on account of its technical virtuosity. His first novel, Redheap, was banned in Australia, not on moral grounds but because of the resemblance of its characters to living persons. He illustrated many of the Roman and Greek classics as well as the works of Rabelais and Casanova, travelled extensively in Europe and while in America illustrated stories for leading magazines. Norman bequeathed his home, furniture and collections to the State of New South Wales.
Family training and lessons from Walter Withers at Withers’ open-air studio at Creswick.
All State and many Regional galleries. Large holdings of Lindsayana are in the State galleries of Melbourne, Perth and Sydney; the Ballarat Fine Art Gallery, Victoria; the Toowoomba Gallery, Queensland; the University of Melbourne Gallery and the Norman Lindsay Gallery and Museum, Springwood, New South Wales.
Norman Lindsay: Norman Lindsay’s Book, numbers 1-2, New South Wales Bookstall Co., Sydney, 1912-15; The Magic Pudding, Angus & Robertson, Sydney, 1918; Creative Effort, Art in Australia, Sydney, 1920 and Palmer, London, 1924; Hyperborea, Fanfrolico Press, London, 1928; Madam Life’s Lovers, Fanfrolico Press, London, 1929; Redheap, Faber & Faber, New York, 1932; The Cautious Amorist, Farrar, New York, 1932; Pan in the Parlour, Farrar, New York, 1933; Saturdee, Endeavour Press, Sydney, 1933; The Flyway Highway, Angus & Robertson, Sydney, 1936; Age of Consent, Laurie, London, 1938; The Cousin from Fiji, Angus & Robertson, Sydney, 1945; Halfway to Anywhere, Angus & Robertson, Sydney, 1947; Dust or Polish, Angus & Robertson, Sydney, 1950; Eric Rowlison, “Olympus at Springwood; the Sculpture of Norman Lindsay”, A and A., vol 11, number 2, October 1973; Douglas Stewart, Norman Lindsay: a Personal Memoir, Angus & Robertson, Sydney, 1975; Jack Lindsay, “The Life and Art of Norman Lindsay”, Meanjin, number 1, volume 33, March 1974, The Encyclopedia of Australian Art, Alan & Susan McCulloch. The above listing is very limited – a complete list of Norman Lindsay books alone could reach more than on hundred and his writings and drawings published in books and magazines would number thousands.