Jeffrey Smart

Stop 19 of 32

A bald man in a dark suit holding a briefcase stands between the front ends of two busses parked close together in the foreground of this painting. Behind them an apartment building is just visible rising into a bright sky.

Jeffrey Smart
The traveller

Creation date: 1973

The traveller
1973 Tuscany, Italy
synthetic polymer paint and oil on canvas
100.5 x 116 cm
Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane
Purchased 1975 with the assistance of an Australian Government Grant through the Visual Arts Board of the Australia Council
© The Estate of Jeffrey Smart

The Australian writer David Malouf recalled Jeffrey Smart telling him the figure stepping off the bus in The traveller was based on the writer Vladimir Nabokov. Malouf enjoyed the irony of this Russian-born writer metaphorically travelling all the way to Brisbane, given that the painting was acquired by the Queensland Art Gallery.

Although Smart was known for using humorous references in his works, he ultimately wanted the identities of his characters to be ambiguous. As humans, we all move through the world, trying to find our way. In this work the traveller is a type, a carrier of stories.