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An image of Things on an iron tray on the floor by Grace Cossington Smith

Grace Cossington Smith

(Australia 1892 – 20 Dec 1984)

Things on an iron tray on the floor
Other titles:
Things on an Iron Tray
Place of origin
TurramurraSydneyNew South WalesAustralia
(circa 1928)
Media category
Materials used
oil on plywood

54.0 x 69.5 cm board; 72.1 x 87.6 x 3.5 cm frame

Signature & date
Signed l.l. corner, black ink "G Cossington Smith". Not dated.
Purchased 1967
Accession number
© Estate of Grace Cossington Smith
20th & 21st c Australian art
Further information

The years from 1926 until the mid 1930s were the most important in Grace Cossington Smith's artistic life. She progressed beyond her early art training with Dattilo-Rubbo, and realised her potential as a painter of colour and light, structure and rhythmic pattern. As Thea Proctor wrote, Cossington Smith's 'lovely and individual colour sense' was achieved with paint 'applied once and not touched again … [with] a mat-dry surface, freshness and vitality'.

While this work represents domestic items in a still-life arrangement, the true subject of the painting is the interplay between colour, form and light. It presents radiating, concentric forms in luminous colour.

Bibliography (12)

Deborah Hart, Look, 'Grace Cossington Smith: looking bakc at a life of colour and light', pg. 28-31, Newtown, Nov 2005, 29 (colour illus.).

Deborah Hart, Grace Cossington Smith, 'A distinctive vision', pg. 26-55, Canberra, 2005, 32, 35, 36 (colour illus.), 90.

Bruce James, Australian painters of the twentieth century, 'Grace Cossington Smith', pg. 40-51, Roseville, 2000, 47 (colour illus.).

Bruce James, Grace Cossington Smith, 'The new science of colour', pg. 61-77, Sydney, 1990, 72 (illus.), 75, 77. figure no. 32

Rosemary Lloyd, Shimmering in a transformed light: writing the still life, 'Cataloguing the world', pg. 27-52, Ithaca, 2005, 30, 31 (illus.), 126. figure no. 4

Denise Mimmocchi, Sydney moderns: art for a new world, 'Still-life as laboratory table', pg. 198-213, Sydney, 2013, 196 (colour illus., detail),198 (colour illus.), 199, 203, 315, 324.

Margaret Olley and Barry Humphries, Favourites: Margaret Olley and Barry Humphries choose from public and private collections, Sydney, 2000. Catalogue entry appears in inserted list to printed catalogue

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, Acton, Aug 2005, 26.

Daniel Thomas, Art Gallery of New South Wales Quarterly, 'Grace Cossington Smith', pg. 510-521, Sydney, Jan 1970, 505 (cover illus.), 506, 519.

Daniel Thomas., Art and Australia, 'Grace Cossington Smith', Sydney, Mar 1967, 305, 308 (illus.).

Sydney Ure Smith and Leon Gellert (Editors), Art in Australia [series 3, no. 26], Sydney, 1928, (illus.). plate no. 15; 'The Art of the Year' issue

Editor Unknown (Editor), 1967 Acquisitions, Sydney, 1967, 21. 26

Exhibition history (7)

Grace Cossington Smith (1928), Grosvenor Gallery, Sydney, 23 Jul 1928–04 Aug 1928

Eighteenth annual exhibition of the Contemporary Group (1943), Blaxland Gallery, Sydney, 06 Jul 1943–16 Jul 1943

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

Favourites: Margaret Olley and Barry Humphries choose from Australian collections (2000), S.H. Ervin Gallery, Sydney, 15 Jan 2000–27 Feb 2000

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):

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