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Studio portrait, Chelsea



Norah Simpson


05 Jul 1895 - 19 Feb 1974


Norah Simpson is credited with playing an important role in the introduction of post-impressionism to Australia, although she is an unfamiliar figure in Australia – she moved permanently to Europe in 1915 and subsequently ceased painting.

On a prior visit to London in 1912, she had met members of the Camden Town Group – a group of post-impressionist artists – and saw first-hand in Paris works by Cézanne, Matisse, van Gogh and Picasso. On her return to Australia in 1913, she brought reproductions and books dealing with post-impressionist and cubist work to her art classes with Italian artist–teacher Antonio Dattilo-Rubbo, where they had a powerful effect on Simpson’s fellow students Roland Wakelin, Grace Cossington Smith and Roy de Maistre – particularly influencing their use of colour.


Other Title

Self portrait 1911

Place where the work was made

Chelsea London England



Media category


Materials used

oil on canvas


50.8 x 40.7 cm stretcher; 62.7 x 52.7 x 5.0 cm frame

Signature & date

Not signed. (Not dated?).


Purchased 1960

Accession number


Artist information

Norah Simpson

Works in the collection


Shown in 4 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 17 publications


Janine Burke, Australian women artists 1840-1940, Collingwood, 1980, 42, 43, 140 (colour illus.), 178. plate no. 67

Jasmin Dessmann and Deborah Edwards, Sydney moderns: art for a new world, 'The lost moderns: Tempe Manning, Niel A Gren and Norah Simpson', pg. 38-41, Sydney, 2013, 38, 41 (colour illus.), 315.

Deborah Edwards, Australian art: in the Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'Moderns', pg. 103-104, Sydney, 2000, 103, 112 (colour illus.), 302.

Anna Gray, The Cambridge companion to Australian Art, 'Australian artists within a wider world 1900-1930', pg. 84-96, Port Melbourne, 2011, 89.

Anne Gray, The Edwardians: secrets and desires, 'The Edwardians', pg. 10-71, Canberra, 2004, 29, 227 (colour illus.). 127

Lesley Harding, Art and Australia (Vol. 36, No. 4), 'Tempe Manning: the lost modernist', pg. 532-537, Sydney, 1999, 532 (colour illus.).

Bruce James, Grace Cossington Smith, 'The knitter', pg. 26-36, Sydney, 1990, 29, 30 (colour illus.). plate no. 3

Ursula Prunster (Curator), Australian painters; Seeing Cézanne, Sydney, 1998, 31. 34

Bernard William Smith and Terry Smith, Australian painting 1788-1990, 'Leviticus 1913-32', pg. 167-204, South Melbourne, 1991, 171, 172 (illus.), 560. illus. no. 98

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

Virginia Spate, Art Monthly Australia, 'Amazing Grace: Thoughts inspired by the Grace Cossington Smith exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra', pg. 22-30, Canberra, Aug 2005, 23.

Daniel Thomas, Grace Cossington Smith, 'Modernity and inwards', pg. 102-107, Canberra, 2005, 103.

Daniel Thomas, Art Gallery of New South Wales Quarterly, 'Grace Cossington Smith', pg. 510-521, Sydney, Jan 1970, 512 (illus.).

Roland Wakelin, Art Gallery of New South Wales Quarterly, 'Post Impressionism in Sydney: Some personal recollections', pg. 91-95, Sydney, Jan 1962, 91, 92 (illus.).

Donald Williams, In our own image: the story of Australian art, Sydney, 2002, 90, 91 (colour illus.).

Donald Williams, In our own image: the story of Australian art, Sydney, 1995, 99 (colour illus.).

J.F. Williams', Art and Australia, 'Modernism & the lost generation', pg. 52-57, Sydney, Spring 1991, 56 (colour illus.).