An image of The sock knitter

Grace Cossington Smith

(Australia 1892 – 20 Dec 1984)

The sock knitter

20th & 21st c Australian art
Further information

Grace Cossington Smith's 'The sock knitter' has been acclaimed as the first post-impressionist painting to be exhibited in Australia. A remarkable student work, the painting signalled a challenge to the artistic traditions of the time. The extreme flattening of the picture plane and the use of bright, expressive, broken colour applied in broad brush-strokes to delineate form reflects the aesthetic concerns of European painters such as Cézanne, Matisse and van Gogh.

The subject of the painting is Madge, the artist's sister, knitting socks for soldiers serving on the frontline in World War I. Distinctly modern in its outlook, 'The sock knitter' counterpoints the usual narratives of masculine heroism in wartime by focusing instead on the quiet steady efforts of the woman at home.

Place of origin
Turramurra, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
oil on canvas
61.8 x 51.2 x 1.7 cm stretcher; 77.2 x 66.0 x 6.4 cm frame
Signature & date

Signed l.l. corner, red oil "G.C.Smith". Not dated.
Signed and dated top c. verso on canvas, pen and black ink "... 1914-1918/ G. Cossington Smith".

Purchased 1960
Accession number
© Estate of Grace Cossington Smith