Smith & Singer

Dorrit Black: A Thoroughly Modern Master

August 17, 2014

Adelaide artist Dorrit Black (1891-1951) is one of Australia’s most respected artists credited for introducing modernist principles and techniques to local audiences.  In the late 1920s during her time studying at the Grosvenor School of Art in London and Mirmande in the south of France, Black developed a distinct post-impressionist and cubist style.  

The Pink House (1928) (estimate $40,000-60,000, lot 25) and A Dorset Farmyard (1944) (estimate $30,000-40,000, lot 26) are two particularly rare examples of her exceptional work as a modernist painter.   The use of tonal modelling is evident in The Pink House, a device Black successfully adopted during her time working and studying abroad.  The foreground of the painting shows the green foliage of trees, while the flat apricot walls and red rooftop prisms show Black’s supreme skills as a modernist painter.

A Dorset Farmyard, was painted by Black in Adelaide from sketches she had made ten years earlier at Chideock, a small west Devon coastal farming village.  The artist visited the village in 1935 with a group of artists on her second visit to England and later revisited the sketches while working in Adelaide.  The oil painting shows a herd of cattle against the soft organic curves of the farm rooves in the background.

These important paintings by Dorrit Black are offered for auction for the first time at Sotheby’s Australia’s Important Australian & International Art sale on 26 August 2014 in Sydney.  The paintings have been consigned from the collection of fellow South Australian artist Jacqueline Hick (1919-2004) and represent a unique opportunity for collectors of Australian art.

Much of the artist’s work was influenced by her studies in Europe, but as a founding director of the Modern Art Centre in Sydney, Black’s contribution to Australian modern art is undisputed.  Black taught landscape painting at the South Australian School of Arts, where one of her pupils was Jacqueline Hick.  Well known for her figurative paintings, Hick was passionate about the arts and served on the board of the Art Gallery of South Australia for seven years and the Council of the Australian National Gallery in Canberra between 1982 and 1985.

view e-Catalogue
View catalogue entry The Pink House (1928)
view catalogue entry A Dorset Farmyard (1944)

Dorrit Black 1891-1951, Farmyard (1944)

Dorrit Black 1891-1951
A Dorset Farmyard (1944)
oil on canvas board
42.2 x 58.7 cm
Estimate $30,000-40,000

Pictured top:Dorrit Black 1891-1951
The Pink House (1928)
oil on canvas on cardboard
36.8 x 47.6 cm
Estimate $40,000-60,000


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