Grace Cossington SMITH

Neutral Bay, New South Wales, Australia 1892 – Sydney, New South Wales, Australia 1984

  • England, Europe 1912-14
  • England, Italy 1949-51

The great illusion: (knowing one) 'He can't hold them any longer-they're waiting for the chance to break loose-'. between 1917 and 1919 Place made: Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Materials & Technique: drawings, graphite; paper drawing in black pencil Support: thin smooth pale grey wove paper
Manufacturer's Mark: no manufacturer's mark

Primary Insc: signed lower centre in black pencil, 'G.C.S'. not dated. inscribed upper centre in black pencil, 'THE GREAT ILLUSION'. inscribed lower left to lower right in black pencil, 'He can't hold them any longer - they're waiting for the chance to break loose-'.
Secondary Insc: no inscriptions.
Tertiary Insc: no inscriptions.
Dimensions: image 25.6 h x 32.5 w cm sheet 25.6 h x 32.5 w cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 1976
Accession No: NGA 76.705.76
Subject: War: first world war, 1914-1918
  • Purchased by the Australian National Gallery, from the artist, through Macquarie Galleries, Sydney, 1976
  • Cossington Smith felt passionately about Australia’s involvement in World War I. Her views were informed by her parents’ British heritage and the involvement of her family and young friends in the war. In her boldly drawn series of images titled The great illusion she plays on ideas of Germany’s illusions of power in relation to the Empire. There is youthful passion in these drawings and a measure of satire quite uncharacteristic of Cossington Smith’s later work.

    Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra