FACES, c.1948

100 Highlights from the Cbus Collection of Australian Art
27 July 2022


(1920 - 1960)
FACES, c.1948

from THE LOVERS series
ink and pastel on paper

47.5 x 34.5 cm (sheet)

signed with estate stamp lower left: Joy Hester

$20,000 – $30,000
Sold for $19,636 (inc. BP) in Auction 70 - 27 July 2022, Melbourne

Joseph Brown Gallery, Melbourne
Dr Ross Johnston, Brisbane, acquired from the above, by 1979
Christie’s, Melbourne, 1 May 2000, lot 165
The Cbus Collection of Australian Art, Melbourne, acquired from the above


A View of Brisbane Collections, Queensland Art Gallery Society, Brisbane, 9 – 25 March 1979 (label attached verso)
Figurative Works from the Cbus Collection, Latrobe Regional Gallery, Victoria, 4 August – 2 December 2012
People are Strange, Latrobe Regional Gallery, Victoria, 28 November – 8 March 2015
Patricia Piccinini & Joy Hester: Through love …, TarraWarra Museum of Art, Victoria, 24 November 2018 – 11 March 2019 (label attached verso)
Joy Hester: Remember Me, Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne, 28 November 2020 – 14 February 2021, cat. 93
on long term loan to Latrobe Regional Gallery, Victoria


Nainby, B., Stanhope, Z., and Furlonger, K., The Cbus Collection of Australian Art, in association with Latrobe Regional Gallery, Melbourne, 2009, pp. 15, 75 (illus.), 221
Morgan, K. and Petherbridge, D., Joy Hester: Remember Me, Heide Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne, 2020, p. 153 (illus.)

Catalogue text

The story of Joy Hester’s life is so complex and familiar that connections are inevitably made between what we know – or imagine we know – of her experiences and feelings, and the images she created. This is especially so of works which focus on the depiction of human relationships and emotion. The dual themes of love and lovers are persistent throughout her oeuvre, but especially from 1947, a year which marked the end of her marriage to Albert Tucker and the beginning of a new relationship with the poet/painter, Gray Smith.

In this work from around 1948, Hester depicts the faces of two figures, painting them quickly in broad brushstrokes of black ink and wash. They read as opposites: one female and one male, one that is pale in colour, and one that is dark. While the female looks out at the viewer, a hint of a smile on her face, her partner’s gaze is focussed firmly on her. The overlapping of their faces signals an intimate connection which is reinforced by the presence of a rose, a traditional symbol of romantic love. Indeed, these faces appear to be enclosed within a heart-shaped (although incomplete) outline, a motif Hester used in other works including two closely related examples which share the same title and date, Love (Heart group), c.1949 (National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, and Gallery at HOTA, Queensland). 

Although Hester’s work was unrepresented in any public collection at the time of her premature death in 1960, it is now widely collected, with major holdings in the National Gallery of Australia and Heide Museum of Modern Art. Her art has been the subject of several major posthumous exhibitions and notably, this work was included in the most recent of these, Joy Hester: Remember Me, shown at Heide during 2020.1 

1. See Morgan. K. & Petherbridge, D., Joy Hester: Remember Me, exhibition catalogue, Heide Museum of Modern Art, Bulleen, 2020, cat. no. 93, illustrated p. 153