Hunt for the missing Norman Lindsay equestrian portrait of Sir Frank Fox

Sir Frank Fox became close friends with Norman Lindsay, initially through The Bulletin, and they were constant companions. They shared a love of riding and Lindsay described Fox as an ‘Equine Exhibitionist’.  Most unusually Lindsay painted an equestrian subject – of Fox.  It has been a somewhat obsessive, life-long project of mine to locate the portrait.  My initial enquiries in Australia were met with distinct scepticism as to whether Norman Lindsay painted such a subject as it is so different from his well known images. However when en route to jackerooing in Queensland in 1967, I telephoned Lindsay.  Whilst he was too frail to come to the telephone, his somewhat dismissive Private Secretary was persuaded to put the question to the distinguished old man, who promptly confirmed the provenance.   I have a photograph of the painting, with a clearly visible signature, which had been sent to my late Grandmother in England when the effects of the late George Holman, an Art Dealer, were sold in Adelaide in the late 1960’s.  Unfortunately she could not afford to bid, but through the Director of the Art Gallery of New South Wales I later obtained a watercolour sketch of the portrait.    A series of Newspaper advertisements has failed to produce a definitive lead for the work, but I remain in hope.

Lindsay and Fox had what my Grandmother described as ‘a terrible quarrel’, the cause of which is obscure.  However Lindsay subsequently wrote to my Great Grandfather in England to apologise – I have the letter.  I suspect that the row may have been due to Fox’s refusal to reproduce some of Lindsay’s more risqué images in The Lone Hand.


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