inscribed in ink l.l.: G.Cossington Smith inscribed in blue ink on reverse: Building of the Bridge / G Cossington Smith / about 1927 inscribed in pencil on reverse: Bridge In - Curve / G Cossington Smith / G. Cossington Smith / Blaxland Galleries / From Aug 29 (Aug 29 underlined) inscribed in ink on reverse: "(...illeg.)" - Sydney / Building Harbour Br (...illeg.) / (...illeg.) subject (...illeg.)
Grace Cossington Smith is today recognised as one of the greatest Australian artists of the first half of the twentieth century yet, at the time, like that of many female artists, her work was marginalised and unacknowledged. Smith’s paintings of the Sydney Harbour Bridge celebrate it as a powerful symbol of technology and modernity. By painting the emerging, rather than completed, bridge, Cossington Smith also focuses our attention on the energy and ambition required to create it.
Original, by S. A. Parker, Sydney
The frame may originally have been left in the gesso to provide a bone-white surface. The near white surface looks back to the early Impressionist frames but is here carried through on a shaped timber profile that would otherwise have carried runs of composition ornament. Another Grace Cossington Smith painting of the same subject, The curve of the bridge, 1928–9, AGNSW, has a Parker frame which appears to make use of three components, one of which is the moulding used for The bridge in-curve. 2, 3
Another frame with this label is on J.R. Jackson's Bridge at Chioggia, Venice, 1907, (3719-3), Felton Bequest 1928. The frame is a simplified variant of the Parker frame on (1280-3). The date of the label suggests a framing of the painting later than the date of execution.
1 The dating comes from the label, which is the same as type 11 (c. 1927–33) in S. A. Parker Framing Works, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 2004, p. 20, and the date of the painting.
2 Illustrated in colour in S. A. Parker Framing Works, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 2004, p. 42.
3 The data for this entry comes from an unpublished report by Holly McGowan Jackson, 2005, in which the frame maker is identified. I am grateful to Melanie Carlisle for bringing this report and the frame to my attention.
S. A. Parker 219 George Street, Sydney
The frame is simple in construction and uses a profile shaped from a solid wooden section, mitred and nailed at the corners. The surface is painted white on a stippled gesso.
The frame has been repainted with matte white paint. It seems likely, from examination, that the original surface was pale cream. A deep, linen-covered spacer has been inserted to accommodate the curvature of the support of the painting. The spacer is not original.