Internationally acclaimed Australian artist Jeffrey Smart has died in Italy, aged 91. Considered one of Australia’s best-known painters, whose depictions of urban landscapes with solitary people in them sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars, Smart only put his paint brush down when he was 90, saying he felt he had earned the right to take a rest.
Born in Adelaide in 1921, Smart trained at the South Australian School of Art, leaving Adelaide 1948 to study in Paris at the Academe Montmartre with Fernand Leger, but returned, among other things becoming the art critic for the Daily Telegraph in the early 1950s and teaching drawing at Sydney’s National Art School. He was awarded the Commonwealth Jubilee Art Prize in 1951.
Returning to Europe in 1964, he settled in Arezzo, where he lived with long-term partner Ermes de Zan, who cared for him until the end.
The Art Gallery of NSW held a retrospective in 1999, and another held last year at the Samstag Museum of Art in Adelaide and the TarraWarra Museum of Art in Victoria, surveying his work from 1940 to 2011, the year he stopped painting.
Image: Jeffrey Smart self portrait