Jeffrey Smart 1921 – 2013
Isabella Stewart Gardner was the daughter of a wealthy linen merchant who was born in New York in 1840. She married John ‘Jack’
Jeffrey Smart was known for landscape painting in very precise form showing urban scenes, ‘full of private jokes and playful allusions’1
Smart’s works show modern urban scenes that are intriguing and somehow unsettling in their strange emptiness. A statement seems to be being made about modern life, but Smart was never prepared to offer a verbal explanation. He preferred people to make up their minds ‘leaving the interpretation as the prerogative of the individual viewer’2.
He liked to paint the precise shape of scenes and the most readily found this in an urban or industrial landscape. Comment is often made about the figures he includes in the scenes and what they are there to convey. He says ‘the truth is I put figures in mainly for scale…My only concern is putting the right shapes in the right colours in the right places. It is always the geometry.’2
Smart produced many works. Between 1939 and 1982 it is believed he painted more than 800 and was still painting at 90, his last work being ‘Labyrinth’ completed in 2011.
1. McDonald, John, ‘Jeffrey Smart: A Modern Australian Master’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 12 September 2017.
2. McDonald, John, ‘Jeffrey Smart: Paintings of the ‘70s and ‘80s’, Craftsman House, ISBN 976-8097-01-9.