- Media category
- Materials used
- oil on canvas
- 51.2 x 40.6 cm stretcher; 67.0 x 56.8 x 7.3 cm frame
- Gift of Janna Bruce 1974
- Library, archive and children's art library
- Accession number
- © Estate of Grace Cossington Smith
- Artist information
Grace Cossington Smith
Works in the collection
From the very beginning of her career Grace Cossington Smith looked to her immediate environment for subject matter, and her first paintings emerged from this domestic impulse. Like her breakthrough work, 'The sock knitter', of the previous year, 'The reader' draws on a domestic theme that sits at odds with the heroic masculinist trope that dominated national painting until that time.
'My chief interest, I think, has always been colour, but not flat crude colour, it must be colour within colour, it has to shine; light must be in it.'
While she made this remark some fifty years after she painted ‘The reader’, by 1916, Cossington Smith was already revealing her fascination for a post-impressionistic use of bright, broken colour, influenced by the European painters Cézanne, Matisse and van Gogh. She was also beginning to unite that modern use of colour with her chosen subject matter to bring life to the quiet, reflective spaces of home.
Shown in 7 exhibitions
Thirty-seventh Annual Exhibition of the Royal Art Society of New South Wales (1916), Exhibition Gallery Department of Public Instruction, Sydney, Sep 1916 -
Project 21 - Womens images of women (1977), Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 15 Oct 1977–13 Nov 1977
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), National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 04 Mar 2005–13 Jun 2005
Grace Cossington Smith: a retrospective exhibition (2005), Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, 29 Jul 2005–09 Oct 2005
Grace Cossington Smith: a retrospective exhibition (2005), Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 29 Oct 2005–15 Jan 2006
Grace Cossington Smith: a retrospective exhibition (2005), Queensland Art Gallery, South Brisbane, 11 Feb 2006–30 Apr 2006
Sydney Moderns, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 06 Jul 2013–07 Oct 2013
The View from 1919, Tamworth Regional Gallery, Tamworth, 01 Jun 2019–28 Jul 2019
Referenced in 10 publications
Jude Adams, Barbara Hall and Jennifer Barber, Project 21: Women's images of women, Sydney, 1977. cat.no. 41; Collection of the Art Gallery of New South Wales
Mary Eagle, Australian Modern Painting Between the Wars 1914-1939, 'Light in Sydney', pg. 30-41, Sydney, 1989, 33.
Deborah Edwards, Sydney moderns: art for a new world, 'Colour, light and rhythm: tools for modernity', pg. 21-33, Sydney, 2013, 30 (colour illus.), 315.
Deborah Hart, Grace Cossington Smith, 'A room of her own', pg. 11-25, Canberra, 2005, 12 (colour illus.), 53, 123, 174.
Bruce James, Grace Cossington Smith, 'Deliberate frightfulness', pg. 41-52, Sydney, 1990, 48, 49 (colour illus.), 161. plate no. 15
Martyn Lyons, A history of the book in Australia 1891-1945, 'Reading models and reading communities', pg. 370-388, St. Lucia, 2001, 377 (illus.).
Ursula Prunster (Curator), Australian painters; Seeing Cézanne, Sydney, 1998, 31. cat.no. 36
Lynne Seear and Julie Ewington (Editors), Brought to Light: Australian Art 1850–1965 from the Queensland Art Gallery collection, 'A singular portrait. Grace Cossington Smith Portrait of a man', pg. 120-123, Brisbane, 1998, 120.
Bernard William Smith and Terry Smith, Australian painting 1788-1990, 'Leviticus 1913-32', pg. 167-204, South Melbourne, 1991, 174.
Roland Wakelin, Art Gallery of New South Wales Quarterly, 'Post Impressionism in Sydney: Some personal recollections', pg. 91-95, Sydney, Jan 1962, 92.
Other works by Grace Cossington Smith
See all 26 works