Joshua Smith (1905-1995)
Peeling Vegetables 1939
oil on canvas
98 x 39.3 cm
Gift of Howard Hinton 1939


Born 1905, Sydney, New South Wales. Died 1995, Sydney, New South Wales.

Joshua Smith was predominantly a painter of traditional portraits, still life and landscape paintings. Influenced by Australian artists such as George Lambert and W.B. McInnes, Smith’s journals also indicate an interest in the old European masters like Rembrandt, El Greco and Velasquez. His oil painting, Peeling Vegetables, 1939, reflects the sombre tones and quietude of traditional genre paintings.

Smith’s talent was recognised at an early age and supported by his parents. He initially studied at East Sydney Technical College (now the National Art School), and later at the Sydney Art School (now the Julian Ashton Art School). He was recruited into the Australian Military during World War II, however, he was deemed medically unfit, and instead worked as a camoufler with William Dobell, Adrien Feint and Donald Friend.

Travels in Europe exposed Smith to the paintings of the Post-impressionists and influenced the simplification and heightened colour of his later work. From 1967 to 1972, Smith taught portraiture at the Royal Art Society of NSW, after which he set up his own school at Lane Cove.

Smith was the subject of William Dobell’s controversial Archibald Prize winning work of 1943. The ensuing controversy had a lasting effect on both artists. Smith was an Archibald finalist 45 times, first at the age of 19, and won the prize in 1944.