We acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the Country on which the Art Gallery of NSW stands.


New York

circa 1936


Peter Purves Smith


26 Mar 1912 – 23 Jul 1949

Alternate image of New York by Peter Purves Smith
Alternate image of New York by Peter Purves Smith
  • Details

    circa 1936
    Media category
    Materials used
    oil on canvas
    76.2 x 50.8 cm stretcher; 90.5 x 65.0 x 3.2 cm frame
    Signature & date

    Not signed. Not dated.

    Purchased 1960
    South Building, ground level, 20th-century galleries
    Accession number

    Reproduction requests

    Artist information
    Peter Purves Smith

    Works in the collection


  • About

    After a brief period as a cadet midshipman, then a stint as a jackaroo in remote NSW, Peter Purves Smith began his formal art studies while on an extended trip to Europe, under Iain Macnab at London’s Grosvenor School of Modern Art.
    Surrealism was making its mark across Europe during this period, and shortly before his return to Australia in 1936, Purves Smith studied work by its leading practitioners shown in two major exhibitions held in London and New York that year.

    'New York', with its organic anthropomorphic forms tilting out of control, displays affinities with the paintings of Salvador Dali, as well as with the cityscapes of New York’s Ash Can artists Edward Hopper and George Bellows. The painting was among the first in Australian art to adopt surrealism’s vocabulary, and predates his contemporaries James Gleeson and Albert Tucker by several years.

  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 6 exhibitions

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 11 publications

Other works by Peter Purves Smith

See all 7 works