Norman Lindsay artwork finds Goulburn home

They may not be typical players in the art world, but the NSW Police Force have loaned a one-of-a-kind artwork from an Australian master for display in Goulburn.

On Thursday the Goulburn Regional Art Gallery received Woman and Satyr, an original oil on canvas piece by Norman Lindsay.

Art Gallery director Gina Mobayed said the piece, which could be worth between $30,000 and $40,00, was located in the depths of the Art Gallery of NSW’s art collections store in 2010.

“It had been there for a number of years but it had been unaccounted for and the ownership to this date has not been traced, so effectively it is owned by no one andhas fallen into the hands of police to locate its true owner,” Ms Mobayed said.

“It is lovely to have the work here because we can extend the life of the work, and who knows what might come out of the wood work.” 

Ms Mobayed said the style of the painting, which is believed to have been painted in the 1940s is “quite traditional” and plays with light and shade.

She said Lindsay was “high prolific” and well known for his use of nudes.

“In the early century that was fairly frowned upon so he was a fairly controversial figure for that reason,” she said

Ms Mobayed said to her knowledge the gallery has never exhibited a Norman Lindsay artwork. 

“I really commend the Police Force for engaging with the artistic community because it is so crucial to make access to works like this as viable as possible,” she said.

According to the NSW Police Force, documents indicate the painting had been lent to the Art Gallery of NSW by police in 1980.

However, the details of how police came in possession of it originally are yet to be clarified.

NSW Police established ‘Operation Matisse’ after the piece was found in a bid to try and locate the owners of the artwork. 

During the operation, Police established the piece once belonged to a prominent art collecting family from Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs.

Acting superintendent Chad Gillies said he was pleased to be able to loan the artwork to a regional community on behalf of NSW Police Force.

“Policing is not traditionally associated with the Arts; however, I am honoured to present this artwork to the community on behalf of the NSW Police Force,” Acting Superintendent Gillies said.

“While the history and ownership of the artwork remains a mystery to this day – it’s positive to see it on display for the benefit and enjoyment of the community.”

The artwork will be on public display for the next four weeks and in the possession of the Goulburn Regional Art Gallery for 12 months.