An image of The breakfast table

John Brack

(Australia 1920 – 11 Feb 1999)

The breakfast table

Other titles:
The Breakfast Table, Breakfast table, The Laid Table
20th & 21st c Australian art
Further information

'The breakfast table' by John Brack depicts the traces of a family's morning meal before the cutlery and plates have been cleared away. It captures a simple moment of domesticity, breaking with the pictorial and thematic conventions of the still-life genre. The painting suggests the interactions and traits of the sitters invisible to us. Empty glasses, cups and mugs remain on the table surrounded by plates with scattered crumbs, bottles, knives and jars of fruit conserve.

Brack's palette is arresting: the illuminated, almost fluorescent yellow of the table top contrasts the deep shadows cast by the items on it. He has arranged the objects in an almost geometric pattern, so that objects sit in relation to one another and are intrinsic to the success of the overall composition.

Place of origin
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
oil on canvas
122.2 x 68.7 x 2.2 cm stretcher; 138.2 x 84.6 cm frame
Signature & date

Signed and dated l.r., dark green oil "John/ Brack 58".

Purchased with funds provided by the Art Gallery of New South Wales Foundation and the Australian Masterpiece Fund, including the following major donors: Geoff Ainsworth AM, Andrew & Cathy Cameron, Vicki & Paul Clitheroe AM, Rowena Danziger AM & Ken Coles AM, Chris & Judy Fullerton, Kiera Grant, Alexandra Joel & Philip Mason, John Sharpe & Claire Armstrong, The Lowy Foundation, Robyn Martin-Weber, Samantha Meers, Kerr & Judith Neilson, Mark & Louise Nelson, John Schaeffer AO & Bettina Dalton, Denyse Spice, Georgie Taylor, Max & Nola Tegal, Alenka Tindale, Eleonora & Michael Triguboff, Peter Weiss AO, Ray Wilson OAM, Women’s Art Group 2013
Accession number
© Helen Brack