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The curve of the bridge



Grace Cossington Smith


1892 - 20 Dec 1984


Throughout its construction, which was completed in 1932, the Sydney Harbour Bridge inspired many artists to redefine their visions of the city and the harbour by incorporating this new industrial structure. This painting shows the massive frame-work in mid-construction, emerging from the shores of North Sydney. It reveals Grace Cossington Smith’s view of the bridge as a dynamic work-in-progress.

In a powerful translation of forms through colour and light, the painting radiates optimism and energy in a celebration of modern engineering and, more broadly, the modern age. The artist made many pencil studies onsite, which she inscribed with notes on colour, took back to her studio and transformed into an iconic expression of Sydney’s most enduring urban monument.


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Place where the work was made

Sydney New South Wales Australia



Media category


Materials used

oil on cardboard


110.5 x 82.5 cm board; 126.5 x 99.0 x 8.0 cm frame

Signature & date

Signed l.l. corner, black ink "G.Cossington Smith". Not dated.


Purchased with funds provided by the Art Gallery Society of New South Wales and James Fairfax AO 1991

Accession number


Artist information

Grace Cossington Smith

Artist profile

Works in the collection



Where the work was made

Shown in 9 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 40 publications


Art Gallery of New South Wales, Great gifts, great patrons: an exhibition celebrating private patronage of the Gallery, Sydney, 1994. no catalogue numbers

Craig Bush, Look, 'Years of enrichment: The society reaches another milestone', pg. 12-15, Sydney, May 2009, 14.

Edmund Capon, Art Gallery of New South Wales: highlights from the collection, Sydney, 2008, 92, 93 (colour illus.).

Edmund Capon, 10 Masterpieces of Australian Painting, Sydney, 1993, (colour illus.).

Paula Dredge, Margaret Sawicki, Steven Miller and Lindsay Parker, S.A. Parker Framing Works, 'Works in the collection with known Parker frames', pg. 27-68, Sydney, 2004, 37 (illus.), 42 (colour illus.).

Laurie Duggan, Ghost nation: imagined space and Australian visual culture 1901-1939, 'The Bridge', pg. 110-117, St. Lucia, 2001, 113, (illus.). reproduced between pages 136-137

Dinah Dysart, Art and Australia (Vol. 46, No. 3), 'Australianness: Daniel Thomas reflects on a lifetime spent on moving art beyond the margins', pg. 438-447, Sydney, 2009, 442 (colour illus.).

Deborah Edwards and Vivienne Webb, Look, 'An icon of Sydney modernism', pg.18-19, Melbourne, Aug 1999, 18.

Deborah Edwards, Australian art: in the Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'Moderns', pg. 103-104, Sydney, 2000, 104, 114, 115 (colour illus.), 302.

Deborah Edwards, Art treasures: candidate citites for the 2000 Olympic Games: Beijing, Berlin, Brasilia, Istanbul, Manchester, Sydney, 'The curve of the bridge', pg. 170, Lausanne, 1993, 170, 171 (colour illus.). 6 Sydney

Peter Gotting, The Sydney Morning Herald, 'To great and absent friends', pg. 14, Sydney, 01 Aug 2000, 14. See Curator's Worksheet for copy of article.

Jane Hampson, Sun-Herald, 'Taking sport out of the picture', pg. 9, Sydney, 30 Jul 2000, 9 (colour illus.). NOTE: page 9 of Sunday Metro lift-out

Deborah Hart, Grace Cossington Smith, 'A distinctive vision', pg. 26-55, Canberra, 2005, 39, 45, 130 (colour illus.), 131-133, 136, 140, 176.

Kathryn Hendy-Ekers, Louise Chamberlin and Deryck Greenwood, Art-iculate: art for VCE units 1-4, 'Grace Cossington Smith', pg. 151-153, Port Melbourne, 2009, 151 (colour illus.).

Bruce James, The Sydney Morning Herald, 'Light fantastic', pg. 11, Sydney, 02 Sep 2000, 11. NOTE: page 11 of Spectrum lift-out.

Bruce James, Grace Cossington Smith, Sydney, 1990, 83 (colour illus.). plate no. 38

Bruce James, Australian painters of the twentieth century, 'Grace Cossington Smith', pg. 40-51, Sydney, 2000, 40 (colour illus.), 44.

Bruce James, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Australian Collection: Painting and Sculpture', pg. 102-181, Sydney, 1999, 102 (colour illus.), 141 (colour illus.). The image on pg. 102 is in detail.

Sandra Jane, Art is ... making, creating and appreciating 2, Milton, 1999, 222 (colour illus.).

Heather Johnson, Australian art collector, 'Private Pleasure, Public Gain - the influence of private collections', pg. 58-61, Ultimo, Apr 1998-Jun 1998, 58 (colour illus.), 59.

Heather Johnson, Australian Journal of Art (vol. XI), 'The problem of "gendered space": Roy de Maistre and Surrealism', pg. 85-108, Canberra, 1993, 88-89.

Deborah Jones, The Weekend Australian, 'Australian Icons: masters of the collection of the Art Gallery of New South Wales', pg. 1, Sydney, 12 Aug 2000-13 Aug 2000, 1 (colour illus.), 4. This colour supplement is a 'Review Special' published for the 'Weekend Australian'. It consists of a four-page, colour wrap-around for the 'Weekend Australian Review'. 'The Australian' was the media sponsor for the AGNSW Exhibition 'Australian Icons', for the Olympic Arts Festival 2000.

Caroline Mackaness, Bridging Sydney, Sydney, 2006, 167 (colour illus.).

John Masters, Sydney moderns: art for a new world, 'From the sponser', pg. 8, Sydney, 2013, 8, 12 (colour illus.), 34, 154, 155 (colour illus.), 315, 324.

Alan McCulloch and Susan McCulloch, The Encyclopedia of Australian Art, St Leonards, 1994, 404 (colour illus.).

Ewen McDonald, The Art Gallery of New South Wales collections, 'From Colonialism to late Modernism', pg. 7-106, Sydney, 1994, 34, 35 (colour illus.).

Bill Merrilees and Dale Miller, Retailing Management - A Best Practice Approach, Melbourne, 1996, front cover (illus.).

Michael Moy, Sydney Harbour Bridge: Idea to icon, Ashgrove, 2006, 49 (colour illus.).

Barry Pearce, Look, 'Jewel of a painting returns: Out of Australian sight for nearly ninety years', pg. 12-13, Sydney, Mar 2010, 12.

Barry Pearce, Southern reflections: 10 contemporary Australian artists, 'An Introduction to Australian Art', pg. 34-42, Sydney, 1998, 37 (colour illus.). 7

Barry Pearce, Look: 1953-2003 celebrating 50 years, 'Presenting our own artists: how the AGS put balance into the Australian collection', pg. 42-44, Sydney, May 2003, 43 (colour illus.).

Barry Pearce., Foundation Newsletter #2, 'Grace Cossington Smith's "Centre of a city" c1925', Sydney, May 2003.

Lisa Slade and Rachael Kirsten, Enter Art, Sydney, 2000, sheet number 4 (colour illus.). Education kit produced by the NSW Dept of Education and Training as teaching resource for primary school teachers.

Susannah Smith, Look, 'Women's work: their diverse and significant contribution to the modernist art scene', pg. 13-15, Sydney, Aug 2013, 14.

Jill Sykes, Look, ‘Barry Pearce’s next book-call it “segueing with intent”’, pg. 28-29, Sydney, Mar 2012, 28, 29 (colour illus.).

Wayne Tunnicliffe and Deborah Edwards, Look, 'New Australia', pg. 24-27, Sydney, May 2012, 24, 27 (colour illus.),.

Sydney Ure Smith and Leon Gellert (Editors), Art in Australia [series 3, no. 29], Sydney, Sep 1929, (illus.). plate no. 26; "'The Bridge Curve' (in possession of Mrs G. MacDermott.)"

Judith White (Editor), Look, Melbourne, Apr 1999, cover (colour illus.), 5 (colour illus.). This image appearing on the cover is in detail.

Judith White, art lovers: The Story of the Art Gallery Society of New South Wales 1953-2013, 'Chapter 5: Be part of the art 1988-2000', pp. 111-138, Sydney, 2013, 2-3 (illus.), 115, 226, 227 (colour illus.).

Editor Unknown (Editor), Australian artist, 'Australian Icons at the Art Gallery of New South Wales', pg, 4-5, Chatswood, Aug 2000, 5 (colour illus.).