Norman Lindsay is regarded as one of Australia's greatest and most prolific artists. The Norman Lindsay gallery Collection contains drawings, etchings, watercolours, oils and bronze sculptures.
In his will dated 7 March, 1969, Norman Lindsay left a bequest to the National Trust of Australia (NSW) of sixteen watercolours, seventeen oil paintings, nine original pen drawings, pencil drawings, ship models, sculptures and statuary: plus "all my paints, painting table and other materials dealing with my craft", and "all book cases and other pieces of furniture decorated by me, together with all books which may be therein at the date of my death".
It was a condition of the will that the Trust should acquire Lindsay’s house at Springwood in which to display the bequest. In order to raise funds to buy and restore it, with the surrounding 42 acres of lawns and bush, it was necessary to open a public appeal. The members of the Appeal Committee were Sir Robert Menzies, Vice-Admiral Sir John Collins, Sir Norman Cowper, Sir Erik Langker, Dr H.C. Coombs, Kenneth Slessor, Dr Clement Semmler, A.R. Renshaw, Geoffrey Dutton and Douglas Stewart.
The appeal, with the support of The Australian newspaper, was launched in February 1970. When $30,000 had been raised by general contributions, a magnificent final donation of $50,000 by Mr S.H. Ervin, a connoisseur of paintings and a lifelong friend of Lindsay’s, brought the total to $80,000, which was sufficient for the Trust’s requirements.
The Gallery was officially opened by the then Governor-General, the Rt Hon. Sir Paul Hasluck, on 24th February 1973.
Although Lindsay has bequeathed sufficient paintings, drawings and ship models etc., including many of his most notable works, to fill his house and studio, the Trust’s management committee at Springwood felt that it was important that his work should be displayed in all its forms and, where possible, always at the highest aesthetic level. For that reason it initiated a policy of buying, borrowing or accepting as gifts works of exceptional interest. Purchases have included a large collection of etchings, the two outstanding watercolours Unknown Seas and Court of Venus, and several of the pen drawings illustrating the Satyricon of Petronius.
Valuable loans of paintings have been made from time to time by the Mitchell Library, Sydney, and the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, as well as by private benefactors.