Who Comes?


Original etching

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28.7 x 25.2 cm
Etching, engraving and stipple on paper
Edition: 30

Norman Lindsay Etchings: Catalogue Raisonné (Odana Editions and Josef Lebovic Gallery, 2006, cat.188)
Art Gallery of New South Wales
Art Gallery of Western Australia
Bendigo Art Gallery
Hamilton Art Gallery

Who Comes? was inspired by Mozart's opera The Magic Flute, first performed in Vienna in 1791. Norman explained to his son Jack:
As a matter of fact, Who Comes jumped into my mind from a bar of music — in Mozart's Magic Flutethere is a passage, strange, mournful and yet ominous, that recurs suddenly in a setting of happiness — it shaped the words Who Comes to me and the picture followed. Probably Mozart meant something quite different, but that is no concern of mine.

In January 1919 Sydney Ure Smith wrote a long letter to Norman in which he described Who Comes?:
... Who Comes?, is, I think, a remarkable plate. The composition is very fine and the drawing and handling of the groups of figures is masterful ... you seem to me to have the full range of etching from the delicate stipple on the nude girl's flesh to the deep black of the shadowy background. The textures, too are most interesting ... the flesh with an almost luminous glow emanating from it ... the delicate filmy suggestion of draperies ... and the rich pattern on the curtains ...

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