Jeffrey Smart

Stop 18 of 32

A bald man in a suit and jacket stands at the bottom of a concrete staircase next to a wall, both of which take up the lower two thirds of the painting. A lightly clouded summer sky is interrupted by the lower third of a large classical statue and an office building behind.

Jeffrey Smart
Outside the ministry

Creation date: 1970

Outside the ministry
1970 Rome, Italy
oil on canvas
80 x 90 cm
Private collection, courtesy of Menzies Art Brands
© The Estate of Jeffrey Smart


Moving to Italy in 1964, Smart saw firsthand in Rome’s infrastructure the legacy of National Fascist Party leader, Benito Mussolini. The leader’s major building program of the 1930s was characterised by architecturally fascist-style buildings and restored ancient Roman monuments. In Outside the ministry Smart hints at this history. A bald man in an overcoat with dark sunglasses—a figure that appears in many of Smart’s paintings—evokes the powerplays of authority and government control. At the top of the stairs is a partially obscured monument in the form of the classical sculpture, visible only from the torso down.