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Packsaddle Lecture Series: “The Case that Stopped a Nation”
VENUE: New England Regional Art Museum, 106=114 Kentucky Street. TIME: 5.30-7.00pm. COST: $10 (member), $15 (non-member) – available from www.trybooking.com/events/landing/859620 (50₵ booking fee applies) – booking essential. For more information, phone 02 6772 5255.
The award of the Archibald Prize in 1944 to William Dobell for his “modernist” portrait of Joshua Smith provoked what one newspaper described at the time as “the biggest legal smash hit since Ned Kelly”. The controversy convulsed Sydney’s art world, knocked the Pacific War off the front pages of newspapers, attracted international attention and saw a crush of viewers pack the normally serene halls of the Art Gallery of NSW.
Leading the uproar and subsequent bitter legal battle was Mary Edwards, the painter who with Garfield Barwick as counsel, prosecuted the case against Dobell and the gallery trustees all the way to the Supreme Court of NSW. Dr Peter Edwell, a senior lecturer at Macquarie University and a relative of Mary Edwards (Edwell-Burke), now presents the first dedicated study of this landmark controversy and court case in his book The Case that Stopped a Nation, published to coincide with the centenary celebrations of the first award of the Archibald Prize in 1922. In his lecture in the Packsaddle Lecture series, Dr Peter Edwell, deals with key elements of the controversy at a public and private level and reveals exciting archival discoveries that shed new light on this intriguing controversy.