Purchased from a gallery in Lyon, this painting was the first work by Emily Kngwarreye acquired by Stefano Spaccapietra, which inspired him to travel to Australia in search of the finest examples he could acquire over the subsequent years, either directly from the Holt family's Delmore Gallery or via Sotheby's at auction.
According to the documentation accompanying the painting, Fertile Desert refers to emus scuttling between their nests in search of the variety of plants, bush fruit, berries and seeds on which they thrive. The painting is comparable to a number of works on the same theme, including the earlier Emu Woman of 1988-89 in the Janet Holmes à Court Collection, Emu Story, 1989, in the collection of the National Gallery of Victoria and Emu All Over, 1990.2
1 Janet Holt in Isaacs, 1998, p.7
2 Emu Woman of 1988-89 is illustrated in Boulter, M., The Art of Utopia: A New Direction in Contemporary Aboriginal Art, Craftsman House, Sydney, 1991, p.66, plate 11, and in Neale, M (ed), Emily Kame Kngwarreye. Paintings from Utopia, Queensland Art Gallery and Macmillan, Brisbane, 1998, p.16, catalogue number 7, plate 8. Emu Story, 1989, and Emu All Over, 1990, are illustrated in Isaacs, J. et al., Emily Kngwarreye Paintings, Craftsman House, Sydney, 1998, p.45, plate 2, and p.53, plate 10 respectively.
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