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Australian art

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Building the Harbour Bridge IV: the ants' progress, November 1929



Jessie Traill


29 Jul 1881 - 15 May 1967


The Gallery has the complete set of Jessie Traill's celebrated series of etchings depicting the building of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, completed in the years 1927 to 1931. Traill's interest in this complex engineering feat was shared by a number of artists, including her close contemporary Grace Cossington Smith, attesting to the central place the construction of the bridge had in the life of the city.

Australian Art Department, AGNSW, 2000


Other Titles

Sydney Bridge IV: The ants' progress, November 1929

Building the Harbour Bridge IV: the ant's progress

Place where the work was made

Sydney New South Wales Australia



Media category


Materials used

etching with foul biting, printed in brown ink on cream wove paper




39.8 x 25.2 cm platemark; 49.0 x 33.6 cm sheet

Signature & date

Signed and dated l.r. beneath platemark, pencil "JCA Traill 1929".


Purchased 1975


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Jessie Traill

Artist profile

Works in the collection



Where the work was made

Shown in 6 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 15 publications


Deborah Edwards and Denise Mimmocchi, Look, 'Sydney Moderns', pg. 24-28, Sydney, Jun 2013, 24 (colour illus.).

Peter Emmett, Sydney: metropolis, suburb, harbour, 'Metropolis', pg. 13-70, Glebe, 2000, 49-50 (colour illus.).

Peter Emmett, Metropolis, Glebe, 1999. Exhibition guide, brochure format.

Sasha Grishin, Australian art: a history, 'Art of federation in print', pg. 186-195, Carlton, 2013, 195 (colour illus.), 549, 569. not AGNSW impression; plate no. 19.8

Deborah Hart, Australia, 'Australian landscape: pathways into the modern world 1920-50', pg. 184-225, London, 2013, 201 (colour illus.). 133; not an AGNSW impression

Jane Hylton, Modern Australian women: paintings & prints 1925-1945, Adelaide, 2000, 26 (colour illus.), 127. Collection of Art Gallery of South Australia

Bruce James, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Australian Collection: Works on Paper', pg. 182-197, Sydney, 1999, 193 (colour illus.).

Hendrik Kolenberg, Australian prints from the Gallery's collection, 'Introduction', pg. 8-13, Sydney, 1998, 11 (colour illus.), 44 (colour illus.). 30

Caroline Mackaness, Bridging Sydney, Sydney, 2006, 207 (colour illus.).

Ewen McDonald, AGNSW Collections, 'From Colonialism to late Modernism', pg. 7-106, Sydney, 1994, 36 (colour illus.), 37.

Denise Mimmocchi, Sydney moderns: art for a new world, 'Icon of modernity: the Sydney Harbour Bridge', pg. 154-163, Sydney, 2013, 161 (colour illus.), 316, 324.

Macushla Robinson, Stars in the river: the prints of Jessie Traill, 'Building the Harbour Bridge series', pg. 52-61, Canberra, 2013, 9, 58 (illus.), 59, 107, 115 (illus.), 146, 171 (illus.). NOTE: The text on page 107 speaks generally about Traill's Sydney Harbour Bridge works. 'Building the Harbour Bridge' series is specifically discussed on pages 56-60.

Anne Ryan, Australian etchings and engravings 1880s–1930s from the Gallery's collection, Sydney, 2007, 48 (colour illus.). 68

John Slater, Through artists' eyes: Australian suburbs and their cities 1919-1945, 'Continuity and change', pg. 35-70, Melbourne, 2004, 59-60, 63, 74 (illus.). 55

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