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An image of The sock knitter by Grace Cossington Smith

Grace Cossington Smith

(Australia 1892 – 20 Dec 1984)

The sock knitter
Place of origin
TurramurraSydneyNew South WalesAustralia
Media category
Materials used
oil on canvas

61.8 x 51.2 x 1.7 cm stretcher; 77.2 x 66.0 x 6.4 cm frame

Signature & date
Signed l.l. corner, red oil "G.C.Smith". Not dated. Signed and dated top c. verso on canvas, pen and black ink "... 1914-1918/ G. Cossington Smith".
Purchased 1960
Accession number
© Estate of Grace Cossington Smith
Not on display
Further information

Grace Cossington Smith's 'The sock knitter' has been acclaimed as the first post-impressionist painting to be exhibited in Australia. A remarkable student work, the painting signalled a challenge to the artistic traditions of the time. The extreme flattening of the picture plane and the use of bright, expressive, broken colour applied in broad brush-strokes to delineate form reflects the aesthetic concerns of European painters such as Cézanne, Matisse and van Gogh.

The subject of the painting is Madge, the artist's sister, knitting socks for soldiers serving on the frontline in World War I. Distinctly modern in its outlook, 'The sock knitter' counterpoints the usual narratives of masculine heroism in wartime by focusing instead on the quiet steady efforts of the woman at home.

Bibliography (48)

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Deborah Hart, Look, 'Grace Cossington Smith: looking bakc at a life of colour and light', pg. 28-31, Newtown, Nov 2005, 28.

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Exhibition history (10)

Thirty-sixth Annual Exhibition of the Royal Art Society of New South Wales (1915), Exhibition Gallery Department of Public Instruction, Sydney, Oct 1915 -

Purchases and Acquisitions for 1960, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 22 Mar 1961–23 Apr 1961

Grace Cossington Smith (1973-74):

Project 21 - Womens images of women (1977), Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 15 Oct 1977–13 Nov 1977

Twentieth century Australian masterworks from the Art Gallery of New South Wales and the Fred Williams Pilbara series from the collection of CRA Limited, Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum, 04 Oct 1985–06 Nov 1985

Australian Painters Seeing Cézanne, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 28 Nov 1998–17 Jan 1999

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

Grace Cossington Smith: a retrospective exhibition (2005):

Australian modern masterpieces from the Art Gallery of New South Wales:

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

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