The Lacquer Room
Grace Cossington Smith
1892 - 20 Dec 1984
It was quite a surprise, I didn't know it was there, but I went down to get cup of tea … and found this lovely restaurant … I was struck by its colour and general design the moment I saw it … Scarlet, green and white held me spellbound...
Grace Cossington Smith, 1979
Inspired by the art deco designs and vivid colours of the David Jones department store cafe in Sydney, 'The Lacquer Room' embodies the modern inter-war urban experience. The rich red and scattered patterns of the chairs are contrasted with the gleaming green of the lacquered tables, set against the brightness of the walls and polished floors. Grace Cossington Smith’s bold approach to colour exudes a sense of celebrating the new, similar to the contemporary consumer culture epitomised by the department store.
oil on paperboard on plywood
74.0 x 90.8 cm board; 87.0 x 104.0 x 3.9 cm frame
Signature & date
Signed l.l. corner, black ink "G Cossington Smith". Not dated.
© Estate of Grace Cossington Smith
Where the work was made
Shown in 10 exhibitions
Acquisitions 1967, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 06 Mar 1968–01 Apr 1968
The great Australian art exhibition:
- Queensland Art Gallery, South Brisbane 17 May 1988–17 Jul 1988
- Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth 13 Aug 1988–25 Sep 1988
- Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney 21 Oct 1988–27 Nov 1988
- Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Hobart 21 Dec 1988–05 Feb 1989
- National Gallery of Victoria [St Kilda Road], Melbourne 01 Mar 1989–30 Apr 1989
- Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide 23 May 1989–16 Jul 1989
Two hundred years of Australian painting : Nature, people and art in the southern continent:
Australian Collection Focus: Grace Cossington Smith The lacquer room 1935-36, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 01 Aug 1999–24 Oct 1999
Australian icons: twenty artists from the collection, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 04 Aug 2000–03 Dec 2000
Modern Australian women: paintings and prints, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, 24 Nov 2000–21 Feb 2001
Sydney studios, S.H. Ervin Gallery, The Rocks, 14 Aug 2004–26 Sep 2004
Grace Cossington Smith: a retrospective exhibition (2005):
Sydney Moderns, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 06 Jul 2013–07 Oct 2013
O'Keeffe, Preston, Cossington Smith: Making Modernism:
- Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne 12 Oct 2016–19 Feb 2017
- Queensland Art Gallery/Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane 11 Mar 2017–11 Jun 2017
- Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney 01 Jul 2017–02 Oct 2017
Referenced in 34 publications
Prue Davidson, Limelight, 'A beautiful scene: Sydney's artists were both wild and creative in the 1940s', pg. 20-21, Sydney, Aug 2004, 20 (colour illus.).
Deborah Edwards, Australian art: in the Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'Mosaic and figure', pg. 213-214, Sydney, 2000, 218 (colour illus.), 302.
Deborah Edwards and Vivienne Webb, Look, 'An icon of Sydney modernism', pg.18-19, Melbourne, Aug 1999, 18, 19 (colour illus.).
Deborah Edwards., Australian Collection Focus: Grace Cossington Smith The Lacquer Room 1935-36, 'Secular light and the curve of the chairs', Sydney, 1999, cover (colour illus.).
Sarah Engledow', The world of Thea Proctor, 'The world of Thea Proctor', pg. 16-84, Canberra, 2005, 62, 63 (colour illus.), 178.
Deborah Hart, Grace Cossington Smith, 'A distinctive vision', pg. 26-55, Canberra, 2005, 36, 52-53, 105, 138 (colour illus.), 139-143, 178.
Jane Hylton, Modern Australian women: paintings & prints 1925-1945, 'Individual streams: Margaret Preston, Thea Proctor, Grace Cossington Smith, Clarice Beckett', pg. 62-93, Adelaide, 2000, 69 (colour illus.), 80, 84, 126.
Bruce James, Art Gallery of New South Wales handbook, 'Australian Collection: Painting and Sculpture', pg. 102-181, Sydney, 1999, 144 (colour illus.).
Bruce James, Sydney moderns: art for a new world, 'Writing colour: from Mrs van Gogh to Grace Cossington Smith', pg. 34-37, Sydney, 2013, 34, 74, 98, 118, 140, 148, 151 (colour illus.), 316, 324.
Heather Johnson, Aspects of Art Deco in Australia: Sunrise over the Pacific, 'Art Deco art', pg. 96-105, Sydney, 2001, 102, 103 (colour illus.). plate no. 118
Lauren Martin., The Sydney Morning Herald, 'Modern message from the extreme end of niceness', Sydney, 03 Mar 2005.
Drusilla Modjeska, The Weekend Australian magazine, 'A woman's lot', pg. 22-25, Sydney, 21 Aug 1999-22 Aug 1999, 5 (colour illus.), 22 (colour illus.). The image appearing on page 5 is in detail.
Helen O'Neill, David Jones': 175 years, 'The art of David Jones', pg. 256-283, Sydney, 2013, 256, 257 (colour illus.).
Boo Patrick, Look, 'Sydney students speak...about Sydney Moderns', pg. 26-27, Sydney, Mar 2014, 26.
Daniel Thomas, Creating Australia: 200 years of art 1788-1988, 'Colour-Worship', pg.174-175, Melbourne, 1988, 9, 174-175, 175 (colour illus.), 239, 247.
Daniel Thomas, Art and Australia, 'Australian collection', pg. 52-62, Sydney, Jul 1972, 55 (colour illus.).
Daniel Thomas, Symposium papers: Colour in art - revisiting 1919 & R-Balson, 'Modern Australia: Colour in art 1910s-1950s', pg. 3-11, Sydney, 2008, 8, 11.
Daniel Thomas, Art Gallery of New South Wales Quarterly, 'Grace Cossington Smith', pg. 510-521, Sydney, Jan 1970, 517, 520 (illus.), 521.
Ghost nation: imagined space and Australian visual culture 1901-1939, 'Interiors', pg. 216-222, St. Lucia, 2001, 216, (illus.). reproduced between pages 136-137
Through artists' eyes: Australian suburbs and their cities 1919-1945, 'Continuity and change', pg. 35-70, Melbourne, 2004, 42, 113 (colour illus.), 114-115. illus.no. 97
Stravinsky's lunch, 'To Paint What She Saw: Grace Cossington Smith', pg. 203-334, Sydney, 1999, (colour illus.). plate no. 33
Good Weekend, Sydney, 20 Jul 1996, 8, 22.
Heritage: The national women's art book, Sydney, 1995, 151 (colour illus.), 152. cat.no. 250
The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Australia, 1994, 307 (illus.).
Grace Cossington Smith: a painter ahead of her time, Melbourne, 1993, 25 (colour illus.). Part of "Headliners" Series
Two hundred years of Australian painting: nature, people and art in the southern continent, Tokyo, 1992, 102 (colour illus., detail), 126 (colour illus.). cat.no. 75
Australian women artists diary, Birchgrove, circa 1993, 45, 140 (colour illus.), 179. plate no. 68
Art and Australia, Sydney, Mar 1967, 205 (illus.).
The formalesque: a guide to modern art and its history, South Yarra, 2007, 90 (colour illus.).
Aspects of Australian art, Sydney, 2000, (colour illus.). card no. 6: Grace Cossington Smith 'The lacquer room' circa 1935
Making art connections: Visual arts years 7 & 8, 'Lets make an artwork: Peeking into private worlds', pg. 38-39, North Ryde, 2010, 38 (colour illus.).
Look, 'September events for members 1999', pg. 24-25, Melbourne, Sep 1999, 24.
Modern Australian women: paintings and prints 1925-1945, Adelaide, 2000, (colour illus.). not paginated; 6-page fold-out brochure accompanying the exhibition
Exhibitions events - Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Aug 1999-Oct 1999, 12 (colour illus.).