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Mawalan Marika (1908 - 1967)

Lot 92: MAWALAN MARIKA , CIRCA 1908-1967 NATIVITY SCENE Natural earth pigments on eucalyptus bark


November 25, 2007
Sydney, Australia

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Inscribed faintly in crayon "Artist Mawalan" on the reverse Natural earth pigments on eucalyptus bark


109.5 by 33.8 cm


Acquired directly from the artist in the mid 1960s by the vendor's father who was a missionary at Yirrkala; thence by descent


Cf. For another painting by the artist depicting a Christian theme see Crucifixion, , in the collection of the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, in Crumlin, R. and A. Knight, Aboriginal Art and Spirituality, Dove Publications, Melbourne, 1995, p.29, plate 9; for paintings about contemporary life see Map of Painter's Travel by Plane from Yirrkala to Sydney, c.1960, in the collection of the National Museum of Australia, in Morphy, H., Aboriginal Art, Phaidon, London, 1998, p.40, plate 22, and Trip to Sydney, c.1960, in Allen, L. A., Time Before Morning: Art and Myth of the Australian Aborigines, Thomas V. Cromwell, New York, 1975, p.25, illus Mawalan Marika, a leader of the Rirratjingu clan when the Christian mission was established at Yirrkala in 1935, was an innovative artist who sought to comment on his experiences of contemporary life using the traditional conventions of bark painting. In this extraordinary image of the Nativity, the baby Jesus in the manger is surrounded by animals, presumably sheep and a cow, under a variation on a traditional wet season shelter built on forked sticks. The other figures in the composition include the Virgin Mary, Joseph and three other figures, probably the three wise men offering gifts. The wise men are also depicted riding horses in the lower half of the painting and the star that guided them dominates the upper register

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Aboriginal and Oceanic Art

November 25, 2007, 12:00 PM EST

Sydney, Australia

For Sale from Sotheby's