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Collection

An image of The sock knitter by Grace Cossington Smith

Grace Cossington Smith

(Australia 1892 – 20 Dec 1984)

Title
The sock knitter
Place of origin
TurramurraSydneyNew South WalesAustralia
Year
(1915)
Media category
Painting
Materials used
oil on canvas
Dimensions

61.6 x 50.7 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".
Credit
Purchased 1960
Accession number
OA18.1960
Copyright
© Estate of Grace Cossington Smith
Location
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 (47)

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Dr Joseph Brown (Editor), The CBUS collection of Australian art, Melbourne, 2009, 67.

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Dr Deborah Hart, Symposium papers: Colour in art - revisiting 1919 & R-Balson, 'Beatrice Irwin and Grace Cossington Smith: women on the wings of colour in art', pg. 17-22, Paddington, 2008, 18-19.

Bruce James, Australian painters of the twentieth century, 'Grace Cossington Smith', pg. 40-51, Roseville, 2000, 42.

Bruce James, Grace Cossington Smith, 'The knitter', pg. 26-36, Sydney, 1990, 30, 31 (colour illus.), 32-36, 38, 41, 48, 161. plate no. 4

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

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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