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Australian art

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Things on an iron tray on the floor

(circa 1928)


Grace Cossington Smith


1892 - 20 Dec 1984


The years from 1926 until the mid 1930s were the most important in Grace Cossington Smith's artistic life. She progressed beyond her early art training with Dattilo-Rubbo, and realised her potential as a painter of colour and light, structure and rhythmic pattern. As Thea Proctor wrote, Cossington Smith's 'lovely and individual colour sense' was achieved with paint 'applied once and not touched again … [with] a mat-dry surface, freshness and vitality'.

While this work represents domestic items in a still-life arrangement, the true subject of the painting is the interplay between colour, form and light. It presents radiating, concentric forms in luminous colour.


Other Title

Things on an Iron Tray

Place where the work was made

Turramurra Sydney New South Wales Australia


(circa 1928)

Media category


Materials used

oil on plywood


54.0 x 69.5 cm board; 72.1 x 87.6 x 3.5 cm frame

Signature & date

Signed l.l. corner, black ink "G Cossington Smith". Not dated.


Purchased 1967


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Grace Cossington Smith

Artist profile

Works in the collection



Where the work was made

Shown in 8 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 12 publications


Deborah Hart, Grace Cossington Smith, 'A distinctive vision', pg. 26-55, Canberra, 2005, 32, 35, 36 (colour illus.), 90.

Deborah Hart, Look, 'Grace Cossington Smith: looking bakc at a life of colour and light', pg. 28-31, Sydney, Nov 2005, 29 (colour illus.).

Bruce James, Grace Cossington Smith, 'The new science of colour', pg. 61-77, Sydney, 1990, 72 (illus.), 75, 77. figure no. 32

Bruce James, Australian painters of the twentieth century, 'Grace Cossington Smith', pg. 40-51, Sydney, 2000, 47 (colour illus.).

Rosemary Lloyd, Shimmering in a transformed light: writing the still life, 'Cataloguing the world', pg. 27-52, Ithaca, 2005, 30, 31 (illus.), 126. figure no. 4

Denise Mimmocchi, Sydney moderns: art for a new world, 'Still-life as laboratory table', pg. 198-213, Sydney, 2013, 196 (colour illus., detail),198 (colour illus.), 199, 203, 315, 324.

Margaret Olley and Barry Humphries, Favourites: Margaret Olley and Barry Humphries choose from public and private collections, Sydney, 2000. Catalogue entry appears in inserted list to printed catalogue

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, 26.

Daniel Thomas, Art Gallery of New South Wales Quarterly, 'Grace Cossington Smith', pg. 510-521, Sydney, Jan 1970, 505 (cover illus.), 506, 519.

Daniel Thomas., Art and Australia, 'Grace Cossington Smith', Sydney, Mar 1967, 305, 308 (illus.).

Sydney Ure Smith and Leon Gellert (Editors), Art in Australia [series 3, no. 26], Sydney, 1928, (illus.). plate no. 15; 'The Art of the Year' issue

1967 Acquisitions, Sydney, 1967, 21. 26