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.
Self portrait 1911
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?).
© Reproduced with permission
Shown in 4 exhibitions
Purchases and Acquisitions for 1960, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 22 Mar 1961–23 Apr 1961
Australian Painters Seeing Cézanne, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 28 Nov 1998–17 Jan 1999
The Edwardians: Secrets and Desire:
Sydney Moderns, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 06 Jul 2013–07 Oct 2013
Referenced in 17 publications
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.). cat.no. 127
Lesley Harding, Art and Australia (Vol. 36, No. 4), 'Tempe Manning: the lost modernist', pg. 532-537, Sydney, 1999, 532 (colour illus.).
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, Art Gallery of New South Wales Quarterly, 'Grace Cossington Smith', pg. 510-521, Sydney, Jan 1970, 512 (illus.).
Daniel Thomas, Grace Cossington Smith, 'Modernity and inwards', pg. 102-107, Canberra, 2005, 103.
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.).
J.F. Williams', Art and Australia, 'Modernism & the lost generation', pg. 52-57, Sydney, Spring 1991, 56 (colour illus.).
Australian painting 1788-1990, 'Leviticus 1913-32', pg. 167-204, South Melbourne, 1991, 171, 172 (illus.), 560. illus. no. 98
In our own image: the story of Australian art, Sydney, 1995, 99 (colour illus.).
Australian women artists 1840-1940, Collingwood, 1980, 42, 43, 140 (colour illus.), 178. plate no. 67
Australian painters; Seeing Cézanne, Sydney, 1998, 31. cat.no. 34
In our own image: the story of Australian art, Sydney, 2002, 90, 91 (colour illus.).
Grace Cossington Smith, 'The knitter', pg. 26-36, Sydney, 1990, 29, 30 (colour illus.). plate no. 3