The Queensland Art Gallery
is celebrating the entry of two striking portraits of women into its Australian collection Lucile 1937, by Australian artist Peter Purves Smith and Self portrait 1938 by Australian artist Nora Heysen. Arts Minister Rachel Nolan said the Queensland Art Gallery Foundation had achieved its 2011 Appeal target to acquire Purves Smiths portrait of Lucile Stephens (19162003), and had received funds from Philip Bacon, AM, to acquire Nora Heysens Self portrait.
Im delighted these wonderful works have been acquired, thanks to the generosity of the Gallerys Foundation members and Gallery Members. she said.
These striking portraits are now displayed in the Modern Art and Australia display in the Australian Art Galleries at the Queensland Art Gallery. Together, the works, by prominent Australian artists, make a significant contribution to the Gallerys holdings from the modernist period. While representing distinctly different art histories, they depict two strong modern women of pre-war Australia, Ms Nolan said.
I sincerely thank Philip Bacon and the Queensland Art Gallerys many benefactors and Foundation supporters who continue to play a crucial role in helping to build the State art collection, Ms Nolan said.
Queensland Art Gallery Director Tony Ellwood said Purves Smith was a student of the Grosvenor School of Modern Art, in London, and then the George Bell School, in Melbourne.
Purves Smith is an important artist whose work was strongly influenced by the European surrealists, and this painting joins what has been, until now, a modest representation of modernism influenced by Surrealism in the Gallerys Australian collection.
Purves Smiths Lucile is a lively portrait of Lucile Stephens (19162003), a beautiful young woman whose mother was one of the leading social figures of pre-war Melbourne. Its one of five portrait heads of young women painted by the artist in 1937, he said.
Nora Heysens Self portrait is a striking image of independence and determination. This painting is one her finest, and was considered by the artist herself to be emblematic of her achievements.
In this work Heysen has captured herself as a modern woman, committed to her art and painting in a lightfilled modern idiom; gone are early influences of Italian Renaissance art and classicism.