When two artists enter the 1943 Archibald Prize, a scandal erupts that grips not only the art world, but the nation. A poignant love story with shattering consequences, inspired by real-life events.
‘Is that what you want to do? Peer into my soul and capture my flaws, for all to see?’
As World War II draws to a close, Australian society is still deeply conservative. Homosexuality is illegal and the scourge of Modernism is infecting Australian art.
When William Dobell paints a portrait of lover and fellow artist Joshua Smith, he is awarded Australia’s most prestigious art prize. However, Dobell’s celebration is cut short after a protest is lodged by his competitors, who claim the painting is a caricature. Both artist and sitter soon find themselves in the glare of the spotlight when a court case to determine the matter turns into a public spectacle.
Bill and Joshua’s relationship is put under pressure and at risk of being exposed as they are caught in a world where they must choose between love and art: between acceptance and exile.
‘An absorbing and intriguing story that will appeal to art and history lovers alike.’ Belinda Alexandra
‘Anderson’s gripping, meticulously researched narrative dissects careers and relationships destroyed by boundless ambition and entitlement, by the shockingly conservative 1940s art scene in Sydney, in which a trial is held to determine the very meaning of a work of art. The Prize is an urgent and fascinating read for anybody who has ever been interested in the turbulent art world of 20th century Australia.’ Melissa Ashley