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An image of The Lacquer Room by Grace Cossington Smith
Alternate image of The Lacquer Room by Grace Cossington Smith Alternate image of The Lacquer Room by Grace Cossington Smith Alternate image of The Lacquer Room by Grace Cossington Smith

Grace Cossington Smith

(Australia 1892 – 20 Dec 1984)

The Lacquer Room
Place of origin
TurramurraSydneyNew South WalesAustralia
Media category
Materials used
oil on paperboard on plywood

74.0 x 90.8 cm board; 87.0 x 104.0 x 3.9 cm frame

Signature & date
Signed l.l. corner, black ink "G Cossington Smith". Not dated.
Purchased 1967
Accession number
© Estate of Grace Cossington Smith
Not on display
Further information

It was quite a surprise, I didn't know it was there, but I went down to get cup of tea … and found this lovely restaurant … I was struck by its colour and general design the moment I saw it … Scarlet, green and white held me spellbound...

Grace Cossington Smith, 1979

Inspired by the art deco designs and vivid colours of the David Jones department store cafe in Sydney, 'The Lacquer Room' embodies the modern inter-war urban experience. The rich red and scattered patterns of the chairs are contrasted with the gleaming green of the lacquered tables, set against the brightness of the walls and polished floors. Grace Cossington Smith’s bold approach to colour exudes a sense of celebrating the new, similar to the contemporary consumer culture epitomised by the department store.

Bibliography (34)

Boo Patrick, Look, 'Sydney students speak...about Sydney Moderns', pg. 26-27, Newtown, Mar 2014, 26.

Bruce James, Sydney moderns: art for a new world, 'Writing colour: from Mrs van Gogh to Grace Cossington Smith', pg. 34-37, Sydney, 2013, 34, 74, 98, 118, 140, 148, 151 (colour illus.), 316, 324.

Helen O'Neill, David Jones': 175 years, 'The art of David Jones', pg. 256-283, Sydney, 2013, 256, 257 (colour illus.).

Christine Bates, Making art connections: Visual arts years 7 & 8, 'Lets make an artwork: Peeking into private worlds', pg. 38-39, North Ryde, 2010, 38 (colour illus.).

Daniel Thomas, Symposium papers: Colour in art - revisiting 1919 & R-Balson, 'Modern Australia: Colour in art 1910s-1950s', pg. 3-11, Paddington, 2008, 8, 11.

Bernard William Smith, The formalesque: a guide to modern art and its history, South Yarra, 2007, 90 (colour illus.).

Lauren Martin., The Sydney Morning Herald, 'Modern message from the extreme end of niceness', Sydney, 03 Mar 2005.

Deborah Hart, Grace Cossington Smith, 'A distinctive vision', pg. 26-55, Canberra, 2005, 36, 52-53, 105, 138 (colour illus.), 139-143, 178.

Sarah Engledow', The world of Thea Proctor, 'The world of Thea Proctor', pg. 16-84, Canberra, 2005, 62, 63 (colour illus.), 178.

Prue Davidson, Limelight, 'A beautiful scene: Sydney's artists were both wild and creative in the 1940s', pg. 20-21, Kings Cross, Aug 2004, 20 (colour illus.).

John Slater, Through artists' eyes: Australian suburbs and their cities 1919-1945, 'Continuity and change', pg. 35-70, Melbourne, 2004, 42, 113 (colour illus.), 114-115. 97

Heather Johnson, Aspects of Art Deco in Australia: Sunrise over the Pacific, 'Art Deco art', pg. 96-105, St Leonards, 2001, 102, 103 (colour illus.). plate no. 118

Laurie Duggan, Ghost nation: imagined space and Australian visual culture 1901-1939, 'Interiors', pg. 216-222, St. Lucia, 2001, 216, (illus.). reproduced between pages 136-137

National Gallery of South Australia, Modern Australian women: paintings and prints 1925-1945, Adelaide, 2000, (colour illus.). not paginated; 6-page fold-out brochure accompanying the exhibition

Jane Hylton, Modern Australian women: paintings & prints 1925-1945, 'Individual streams: Margaret Preston, Thea Proctor, Grace Cossington Smith, Clarice Beckett', pg. 62-93, Adelaide, 2000, 69 (colour illus.), 80, 84, 126.

Deborah Edwards, Australian art: in the Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'Mosaic and figure', pg. 213-214, Sydney, 2000, 218 (colour illus.), 302.

Ursula Prunster, Aspects of Australian art, Sydney, 2000, (colour illus.). card no. 6: Grace Cossington Smith 'The lacquer room' circa 1935

Judith White (Editor), Look, 'September events for members 1999', pg. 24-25, South Yarra, Sep 1999, 24.

Drusilla Modjeska, The Weekend Australian magazine, 'A woman's lot', pg. 22-25, Surry Hills, 21 Aug 1999-22 Aug 1999, 5 (colour illus.), 22 (colour illus.). The image appearing on page 5 is in detail.

Deborah Edwards and Vivienne Webb, Look, 'An icon of Sydney modernism', pg.18-19, South Yarra, Aug 1999, 18, 19 (colour illus.).

Jonathan Cooper (Editor), Exhibitions events - Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Aug 1999-Oct 1999, 12 (colour illus.).

Bruce James, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Australian Collection: Painting and Sculpture', pg. 102-181, Sydney, 1999, 144 (colour illus.).

Deborah Edwards., Australian Collection Focus: Grace Cossington Smith The Lacquer Room 1935-36, 'Secular light and the curve of the chairs', Sydney, 1999, cover (colour illus.).

Drusilla Modjeska, Stravinsky's lunch, 'To Paint What She Saw: Grace Cossington Smith', pg. 203-334, Sydney, 1999, (colour illus.). plate no. 33

Bruce James, Good Weekend, Sydney, 20 Jul 1996, 8, 22.

Joan Kerr (Editor), Heritage: The national women's art book, Sydney, 1995, 151 (colour illus.), 152. 250

Author Unknown, The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Australia, 1994, 307 (illus.).

Diana Chase and Valerie Krantz, Grace Cossington Smith: a painter ahead of her time, Melbourne, 1993, 25 (colour illus.). Part of "Headliners" Series

Barry Pearce and Haruo Arikawa, Two hundred years of Australian painting: nature, people and art in the southern continent, Tokyo, 1992, 102 (colour illus., detail), 126 (colour illus.). 75

Janine Burke, Australian women artists diary, Birchgrove, circa 1993, 45, 140 (colour illus.), 179. plate no. 68

Daniel Thomas, Creating Australia: 200 years of art 1788-1988, 'Colour-Worship', pg.174-175, Melbourne, 1988, 9, 174-175, 175 (colour illus.), 239, 247.

Daniel Thomas, Art and Australia [vol. 10, no. 1], 'Australian collection', pg. 52-62, Sydney, Jul 1972, 55 (colour illus.).

Daniel Thomas, Art Gallery of New South Wales Quarterly, 'Grace Cossington Smith', pg. 510-521, Sydney, Jan 1970, 517, 520 (illus.), 521.

Mervyn Horton (Editor), Art and Australia, Sydney, Mar 1967, 205 (illus.).

Exhibition history (9)

Acquisitions 1967, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 06 Mar 1968–01 Apr 1968

The great Australian art exhibition:

Two hundred years of Australian painting : Nature, people and art in the southern continent:

Australian Collection Focus: Grace Cossington Smith The lacquer room 1935-36, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 01 Aug 1999–24 Oct 1999

Australian icons: twenty artists from the collection, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 04 Aug 2000–03 Dec 2000

Modern Australian women: paintings and prints, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, 24 Nov 2000–21 Feb 2001

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

Grace Cossington Smith: a retrospective exhibition (2005):

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

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