Archibald and Wynne Award-winning artist Nicholas Harding has died at the age of 66 from cancer.
Sydney-based Harding won the Archibald in 2001 with a portrayal of actor John Bell as King Lear, and was named a finalist for the award 19 times. This year he won the Wynne Prize with a lush landscape titled Euro.
A self-taught artist who was born in England and moved to Australia in 1965, Harding became known for his many-layered impasto style, which includes both landscapes and portraits.
Sydney gallerist Tim Olsen, who represented Harding, said he was a traditionalist “in every way”.
“He really embraced the long tradition of painting, drawing inspiration from [Lucian] Freud and Frank Auerbach, combining the brush with a spatula”, he said.
“He is one of the biggest mid-career artists that we have lost too soon.”
Harding was passionate about the theater and counted actor Hugo Weaving among his friends. His entry as a finalist for Archibald in 2011 was a Weaving portrait titled Hugo Housewhich is now in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery.
“He was a true gentleman who also embraced the theater,” Olsen said. “He was one of the few artists who was ever invited backstage to draw actors for rehearsal.