Grace Cossington SMITH<br/>
<em>The Bridge in-curve</em> (1930) <!-- (recto) --><br />

tempera on cardboard<br />
83.6 x 111.8 cm<br />
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne<br />
Presented by the National Gallery Society of Victoria, 1967<br />
1765-5<br />
© Estate of Grace Cossington Smith

‘Grace Cossington Smith was one of many artists who closely observed and recorded the construction of Sydney Harbour Bridge, which was considered one of the world’s great engineering feats’ (NGV touchscreen 2002–2003).

The artist began sketching the bridge from Milsons Point in 1927, braving the outdoors in her large hat and sturdy boots, and carrying a gentleman’s black umbrella. Often she strapped her art equipment to her body to stop it blowing away in the severe waterside winds. Many of her drawings and pastels completed reveal her excitement at seeing the bridge’s arches coming together.

Cossington Smith adopted a colourful, post-Impressionist technique using small, separate brush strokes in her paintings and was acknowledged by contemporary critics as being ‘in sympathy with what is known as the modern movement’ (NGV touchscreen 2002–2003).

Classroom discussion:

  • How is the artist’s excitement about the construction of the bridge revealed in her painting The Bridge in-curve?
  • What visual qualities in The Bridge in-curve might be associated with the modern movement?
  • Although The Bridge in-curve is now regarded as a significant Australian painting, it was originally rejected by the Society of Artists exhibition in 1930. Why do you think the painting was viewed differently in the past?


B. Smith, Two Centuries of Australian Art, Fishermans Bend, 2003.
NGV touchscreen research, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, 2002–2003.