Vale: Judy Cassab

Judy Cassab, Australia 1920-2015 / Portrait of Treania Smith 1957 / Oil on plywood / Gift of Treania Bennett, BEM (nee Smith) 1990 / Collection: Queensland Art Gallery | Gallery of Modern Art / © Judy Cassab 1957 / Licensed by Viscopy, Sydney, 2015

The Gallery acknowledges the recent passing of Judy Cassab (15 August 1920 – 3 November 2015), one of Australia’s much loved and respected artists and best known for being the first woman to twice win the prestigious Archibald portrait prize.

Judy Cassab was born in 1920 in Vienna of Hungarian parents. She studied in Budapest and Prague before coming to Australia in 1951. Her works are identified by a bold formal structure marked by free brushwork – she worked directly onto the canvas, virtually drawing with a brush rather than working up her preliminary studies. Cassab enjoyed a reputation as one of Australia’s foremost portraitists, winning many of the country’s most important portrait prizes, including the Archibald in 1960 and 1967. The Portrait of Treania Smith was exhibited in the Women’s Weekly Portrait Prize in 1957, which Cassab had won in 1955 and 1956.

Treania Smith (Mrs Bennett, the donor and subject of the painting) was an early principal of the Macquarie Galleries in Sydney. Cassab’s first one person show was at the Macquarie Galleries in 1953. From the 1950s-70s the Macquarie Galleries was one of Australia’s most dynamic commercial galleries. Artists of the stature of Ian Fairweather, Lloyd Rees and John Olsen were represented by Treania Smith and her partners.

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