Peter Purves Smith

Mar 26, 1912 - Jul 23, 1949

Peter Purves Smith, born Charles Roderick Purves Smith, was an Australian painter. Born in Melbourne, Purves Smith studied at the Grosvenor School of Modern Art in London and under progressive art teacher George Bell in Melbourne.
In his student years, Purves Smith emerged as a uniquely confident artist. He was the first modern artist in Australia to paint historical Australian subjects, including the explorers Burke and Wills, and was among the first Australian artists to have direct contact with the international Surrealist movement. He travelled throughout Europe in the late 1930s, painting many of his most celebrated works in Paris. In 1941, art critic Clive Turnbull identified Purves Smith, William Dobell, and Purves Smith's close friend Russell Drysdale as "the three most significant Australian artists" of the era. However, Purves Smith's artistic career was put on hold while he served in World War II, and later by illness. He died in 1949, leaving behind a small yet influential body of work.
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