Jessie TRAILL, Building the Harbour Bridge VI: Nearly complete, June 1931. Enlarge 1 /1


Brighton, Victoria, Australia 1881 – Emerald, Victoria, Australia 1967

  • England, Europe frequently after 1906

Building the Harbour Bridge VI: Nearly complete, June 1931. June 1931 Description: Another impression of same plate printed on verso

Collection Title: Building the Harbour Bridge
Page: no.6.
Place made: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Materials & Technique: prints, ink; paper etching, printed in black ink with plate-tone, from one plate Support: cream wove paper
Manufacturer's Mark: no manufacturer's mark.
Edition State: published state
Impression: 2/30
Edition: edition of 30

Primary Insc: signed and dated lower right below plate-mark in black pencil, 'JCA Traill 1931'. titled lower left below plate-mark in black pencil, 'Building the Harbour Bridge VII June 1931'. inscribed lower left below plate-mark in black pencil, '2/30'.
Secondary Insc: no inscriptions.
Tertiary Insc: no inscriptions.
Dimensions: plate-mark 37.6 h x 14.8 w cm sheet 45.9 h x 22.4 w cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 1979
Accession No: NGA 79.1888
Subject: Australia, Art style: Painter-etchers 1860s-1938
  • Purchased by the Australian National Gallery, from Thirty Victoria Street [gallery], Sydney, August 1979;
  • Part of a group of 36 prints by various Australian artists.

One of Australia’s greatest engineering projects, the Sydney Harbour Bridge inspired many of Australia’s early modernist artists. For printmaker Jessie Traill, the Bridge became a symbol of modern design and technology and the subject of some of her finest work. This work with its definitive title Building the Harbour Bridge VI: Nearly complete, June 1931, indicates that she was more interested in the bridge under construction than as a finished object. Her work celebrated the industry of the antlike workers, seen from her vantage point on the top deck within the construction area. This allowed her to look up at the arc of the Bridge framed by the girders above and the cropped shadowy form on the right.

The vertical elongation of this print accentuates the height of the pylons and demonstrates her familiarity with Japanese prints. The unusual angles and the emphasis on lineal patterns and geometric shapes also show the influence of the modernist movements such as cubism and abstraction on her work.

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra