In this early self-portrait, Margaret Olley surrounds herself with the things that would preoccupy her throughout her career: the fruits, flowers and exotic objects that she collected about her at home. Her tribute to past great masters of art, seen in the array of postcard reproductions, would also become a frequent feature of her work.
This painting marked an important time for Olley as a young artist commencing her career. She held her first solo exhibition at Sydney’s Macquarie Galleries, from which the Art Gallery of New South Wales and the National Gallery of Victoria both purchased works. The following year, after attracting attention as the subject of William Dobell’s Archibald Prize-winning portrait, she departed for Europe to explore the international art scene.
Place where the work was made
oil on cardboard
56.3 x 72.0 cm board; 68.3 x 84.8 x 7.0 cm frame
Signature & date
Signed and dated l.r.corner, brown oil "OLLEY .48".
Gift of the artist 2001
© Estate of Margaret Olley
Where the work was made
Shown in 10 exhibitions
Margaret Olley (1948):
Justin O'Brien and friends: a birthday celebration, S.H. Ervin Gallery, Sydney, 06 Aug 1987–30 Aug 1987
The art of Margaret Olley (1990):
- S.H. Ervin Gallery, Sydney 03 Aug 1990–09 Sep 1990
- Brisbane City Hall Art Gallery and Museum, Brisbane 15 Sep 1990–07 Oct 1990
- Lismore Regional Art Gallery, Lismore 13 Oct 1990–17 Nov 1990
Margaret Olley Retrospective (1996-97):
- Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney 25 Oct 1996–05 Jan 1997
- Brisbane City Hall Art Gallery and Museum, Brisbane 17 Jan 1997–23 Feb 1997
- Newcastle Region Art Gallery, Newcastle 19 Apr 1997–08 Jun 1997
Parallel Visions: Twenty-two artists from the Australian collection, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 22 Feb 2002–May 2003
Margaret Olley: Celebrating Life (2003), Queensland Art Gallery, South Brisbane, 08 Mar 2003–06 Jul 2003
To look within: Self portraits in Australia:
- University of Queensland Art Museum, Brisbane 16 Apr 2004–20 Jun 2004
- National Portrait Gallery [Old Parliament House], Canberra 09 Jul 2004–19 Sep 2004
Margaret Olley and Donald Friend (2006):
Breaking new ground: Brisbane women artists of the mid-twentieth century, Queensland University of Technology Art Museum, Brisbane, 27 Jul 2007–30 Sep 2007
Australian modern masterpieces from the Art Gallery of New South Wales:
Referenced in 17 publications
Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of New South Wales Annual Report 2002, 'Year in review', pg. 8-25, Sydney, 2002, 8.
Glenn R. Cooke, The world of Antiques & Art, 'Margaret Olley: a tribute for her 80th year', pg. 24-34, Bondi Junction, Feb 2003-Jul 2003, 24 (colour illus.), 32.
Christine France, Margaret Olley, Sydney, 1990, 17, 64, 65 (colour illus.), 178. plate no. 2
Christine France, Parallel visions: works from the Australian collection, 'Donald Friend / Margaret Olley', pg. 128-139, Sydney, 2002, 19, 128, 134 (colour illus.), 135 (colour illus., detail), 145, 147.
Janet Hawley., Good weekend, 'Queen of subjects', Broadway, 25 Mar 1995, 35 (colour illus.), 36.
Lenny Ann Low, The Sydney Morning Herald, 'It's artless: Olsen and Olley hold back donations after tax decree', pg. 8, Sydney, 25 Sep 2002, 8 (illus.).
Louise Martin-Chew, Art and Australia (Vol. 44, No. 1), 'Margaret Olley and Donald Friend', pg. 114, Sydney, Sep 2006-Nov 2006, 114 (colour illus.). Review of Margaret Olley and Donald Friend exhibition.
John McDonald., The Sydney Morning Herald, 'Overdue tribute to an icon of integrity', Sydney, 25 Aug 1990, page unknown.
Barry Pearce, Look, 'Eulogy for Margaret Olley: given by Barry Pearce on July 29, 2011', pg. 12-14, Sydney, Oct 2011, 13 (colour illus.).
Barry Pearce, Margaret Olley, Sydney, 1996, cover (colour illus.), 6 (colour illus.), 17, 116. plate no. 1
Stephen Rainbird, Breaking new ground: Brisbane women artists of the mid twentieth century, Brisbane, 2007, 33, 35 (colour illus.), 69.
Andrew Sayers, To look within: self portraits in Australia, 'The artist's self-portrait in Australia', pg. 6-33, Brisbane, 2004, 39 (colour illus.).
Lisa Slade and Rachael Kirsten, Enter Art, Sydney, 2000, sheet number 13 (colour illus.). Education kit produced by the NSW Dept of Education and Training as teaching resource for primary school teachers.
Meg Stewart, Margaret Olley: far from a still life, Milsons Point, 2005, 186, 196, 479, 505.
Jill Sykes (Editor), Look, Sydney, Nov 2005, 43 (colour illus.).
Jane Watters, Reflections: the National Trust Quarterly, 'Margaret Olley & Donald Friend', pg. 22-24, Sydney, Feb 2006-Apr 2006, 22 (colour illus.).
Editor Unknown (Editor), The Sydney Morning Herald, 'Massive forms in Margaret Olley pictures', Sydney, 30 Jun 1948, page unknown. Review of Macquarie Gallery exhibition.