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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

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The painter transmogrified and Mrs Smith

1973
Eric Smith

oil on canvas laid down on masonite (frame: 151.5 cm x 178.5 cm depth 5.0 cm, support: 148.5 cm x 175.5 cm)

Eric Smith (1919-2017), painter, and Dorothea Joy Darcy were married in Melbourne in 1946 and moved to Sydney in 1952. By that time, they had two children; they would have three more. In 1954 a review of a group exhibition singled Smith’s work out for praise: ‘Eric Smith’s Industrial Landscape compels our attention by the controlled violence of its colour, and by a mysticism that sees cathedrals in factories and crosses in telegraph poles . . Mr Smith conveys the impression that he sees these forms as a modern Golgotha – harrowing, portentous yet part of our everyday world.’ The painter transmogrified and Mrs Smith hints at what it’s like for a commonsensical person to live with a co-parent who sees things this way, and is compelled to realise his vision even if it means setting up paints and easel in the bedroom. By the time he painted this work the artist had won the Blake Prize for religious art six times, and the Sulman Prize for a ‘subject painting’ or a ‘genre painting’ once. At once a painter’s exercise in different ways of portraying personality, a wry reflection on relationships, and Eric Smith’s tribute to his wife’s stability, The painter transmogrified and Mrs Smith won him his second Sulman Prize.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of the Estate of Eric Smith 2019
© Estate of Eric Smith

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. Works of art from the collection are reproduced as per the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). The use of images of works from the collection may be restricted under the Act. Requests for a reproduction of a work of art can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

Artist and subject

Eric Smith (age 54 in 1973)

Subject professions

Visual arts and crafts

Donated by

The Estate of Eric Smith (3 portraits)

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

This website comprises and contains copyrighted materials and works. Copyright in all materials and/or works comprising or contained within this website remains with the National Portrait Gallery and other copyright owners as specified.

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. The use of images of works of art reproduced on this website and all other content may be restricted under the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). Requests for a reproduction of a work of art or other content can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

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