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An image of Portrait of Grace Crowley by Ralph Balson

Ralph Balson

(Australia 12 Aug 1890 – 1964)

Portrait of Grace Crowley
Media category
Materials used
oil on canvas on cardboard

108.8 x 64.3 cm board; 126.0 x 81.5 x 4.5 cm frame

Signature & date
Signed and dated l.l. corner, red oil "R.BALSON 39". Signed and dated top c. verso, "R. Balson/ ... 1939 ...".
Bequest of Grace Crowley 1980
Accession number
© Ralph Balson Estate
Not on display
Further information

Ralph Balson arrived in Sydney in 1913 and was, by trade, a plumber and housepainter. In the early 1920s he began classes at Julian Ashton's Sydney Art School, before joining a small band of Sydney-based artists, including Rah Fizelle, Frank and Margel Hinder and Grace Crowley. Balson quickly absorbed their structural approach to painting, based largely on cubist principles.

Portrait of Grace Crowley depicts Balson's mentor, and reveals his experimentation with pictorial ideas introduced to Crowley in Paris by the influential teacher and painter, André Lhote. Painted in Crowley's studio, the work is executed
in a quasi-abstract style, a prelude to the complete non-figuration Balson unveiled to the Australian public in a historic solo exhibition in 1941.

Bibliography (21)

Bruce Adams, Ralph Balson A Retrospective, Bulleen, Jul 1989, 15 (colour illus.), 21, 73. 6

Bruce Adams, Look, 'Ralph Balson in Retrospect', pg. 20-21, Heidelberg, Feb 1990, 20 (colour illus.), 21.

Candice Bruce, Brought to Light: Australian Art 1850–1965 from the Queensland Art Gallery collection, '"Built on Each Other" Grace Crowley and Ralph Balson', pg. 224-229, Brisbane, 1998, 224 (illus.).

Nicholas Chambers, Art and Australia (Vol. 40, No. 2), 'Ralph Balson: "Painting". Abstracting the invisible', pg. 250-251, St Leonards, Dec 2002-Feb 2003, 250.

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, 53 (illus.).

Deborah Edwards, Symposium papers: Colour in art - revisiting 1919 & R-Balson, 'Concerning "A new realm of visual experience"', pg. 34-36, Paddington, 2008, 35.

Deborah Edwards, Australian art: in the Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'Moderns', pg. 103-104, Sydney, 2000, 127 (colour illus.), 300.

Renée Free, Balson, Crowley, Fizelle, Hinder, 'Introduction', pg. 5-9, Sydney, 1966, 7, 11. 3

Bruce James, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Australian Collection: Painting and Sculpture', pg. 102-181, Sydney, 1999, 146 (colour illus.).

Eleonore H. Lange, Exhibition 1, 'Foreward', Sydney, 1939. 3 as 'Portrait'

Ewen McDonald, The Art Gallery of New South Wales collections, 'From Colonialism to late Modernism', pg. 7-106, Sydney, 1994, 46 (colour illus.).

Paul McGillick, Aspect: Art and Literature, 'The importance of Ralph Balson', pg. 4-17, Mona Vale, Winter 1981, 5.

Denise Mimmocchi, Sydney moderns: art for a new world, 'Towards the abstract: the art of Exhibition 1', pg. 270-271, Sydney, 2013, 270, 272, 273 (colour illus.), 310, 320.

Barry Pearce, Three years on: a selection of acquisitions 1978-1981, 'Australian Art', pg. 5-26, Sydney, 1981, 8 (illus.). 1

Barry Pearce, Look, 'A quiet love affair: private passion over 33 years gives birth to a book', pg. 26-29, Newtown, Sep 2014, 27 (colour illus.).

Elena Taylor, Grace Crowley: being modern, Canberra, 2006, 35, 37 (colour illus.).

Daniel Thomas, Art and Australia, 'Ralph Balson', pg. 248-291, Sydney, Mar 1965, 255, 256 (colour illus.).

David Thomas, Deutscher and Hackett fine art auction: Melbourne 29 August 2012, 'Works from the Wesfarmers collection of Australian art part 1: lots 1-23', pg. 58-59, Melbourne, 2012, 58.

Natalie Wilson, Parallel visions: works from the Australian collection, 'Grace Crowley / Ralph Balson / Frank Hinder / Margel Hinder', pg. 88-103, Sydney, 2002, 90, 94 (colour illus.), 142, 147.

Jenny Zimmer, Art Monthly Australia, 'Balson at Heide', pg. 8-9, Acton, Oct 1989, 8.

Project 41 - the mosaic, the grid, Sydney, 1983, 3. 1

Exhibition history (8)

Exhibition I, David Jones' Art Gallery, Sydney, Sydney, 17 Aug 1939–02 Sep 1939

Balson, Crowley, Fizelle, Hinder:

Three years on: acquisitions 1978-81, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 15 Oct 1981–01 Dec 1981

Project 41: The mosaic -The grid (1983), Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 25 Mar 1983–24 Apr 1983

Ralph Balson: a retrospective:

Parallel Visions: Twenty-two artists from the Australian collection, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 22 Feb 2002–May 2003

Sydney studios, S.H. Ervin Gallery, Sydney, 14 Aug 2004–26 Sep 2004

Sydney Moderns, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 06 Jul 2013–07 Oct 2013