Australian Historical Art Fund & Heritage Government Residences

Yarralumla, 1933

Grace Cossington Smith (1892-1994)
Crayon on paper
Width: 34cm Height: 35.5cm

This picture depicts Government House, Canberra and was the result of a vice regal invitation to teach the Governor-General's wife, Lady Isaacs, about art. The circumstances surrounding this small picture draw together many significant themes relating both to Australia and to The Australiana Fund.

Grace Cossington Smith is one of the most significant Australian artists of the twentieth century who was at the forefront of bringing modernism to Australia from 1913 onwards. The invitation to the artist by the Governor-General of the day, Sir Isaac Isaacs, gave her the opportunity in 1932 to stay at Government House Yarralumla and to produce at least four works; works on paper and oil paintings of the house and gardens. This crayon drawing of Yarralumla shows all the vibrant colour and light of Cossington Smith's works. It has at its centre the fork of the driveway to the house and on the left a dark brooding pine tree with fan shaped fronds. Both the tree on the right and the cast iron pitched roof are bathed in sunlight with its yellow hues. It is this interest in colour and light that Cossington Smith (16th August, 1965) explains: "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, it is no good having heavy, dead colour." In this period, Cossington Smith had begun to receive significant recognition with exhibitions of her work held in Sydney and at the Walker Galleries in London.

Sir Isaac Isaacs was born in Melbourne and had a distinguished career including teacher, clerk, barrister, politician and Cabinet Minister before becoming a High Court Judge in 1906. He had married Daisy Jacobs in 1888 and they had two daughters. In 1928 he was appointed KCMG and in 1930, he became Chief Justice. Sir Isaac was the first Australian born Governor-General.

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This selection represents a small sample of our collection. Our book detailing the collection is currently out of print. An updated edition is due for publication in 2015.
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