Jeffrey Smart

Stop 13 of 32

An older woman stands on a hill beside a mismatched collection of chairs in the foreground of the painting. Behind her sections of two apartment buildings rise into a stormy sky.

Jeffrey Smart
The flea market, Rome

Creation date: 1966

The flea market, Rome
1966 Rome, Italy
oil on canvas
65 x 81 cm
Private collection
© The Estate of Jeffrey Smart


Music composed by James Rushford

My name is James Rushford and I am a composer/performer. In responding musically to Smart’s painting The flea market [Rome] I’ve tried to create a quiet and magical theatre using light and shadow in sound.

This painting brings together imagery that is mundane in the real world but takes on an uncanny and dramatic presence on the canvas. A woman dressed in black presides over an array of chairs in a random scatter. Occasionally spot-lit like an actor in a play, each chair has its own distinct character. Similarly, the female figure is like a character in a film and recurs in many of Smart’s paintings of this period, such as Spring landscape and Piraeus II. These paintings draw on the atmosphere of the Italian cinema Smart admired, including the Italian film director Vittorio De Sica’s neo-realist film Bicycle thieves (1948)