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An image of Still life with pink fish by Margaret Olley

Margaret Olley

(Australia 22 Jun 1923 – 25 Jul 2011)

Still life with pink fish
Place of origin
SydneyNew South WalesAustralia
Media category
Materials used
oil on cheesecloth on hardboard

76.3 x 97.0 cm board; 93.0 x 113.0 x 4.8 cm frame

Signature & date
Signed and dated l.l. corner, brown oil "Olley 48".
Purchased 1948
Accession number
Not on display
Further information

Margaret Olley is renowned for her unique contribution to the tradition of still life and interior subjects in Australian art. The era in which this painting was produced was significant in the early development of her career. She held her first solo exhibition at Sydney's Macquarie Galleries in 1948, from which public galleries 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.

'Still life with pink fish' stems from the artist's interest in late nineteenth century and early twentieth century French painters, particularly Cézanne. It presents a tabletop arrangement of fruit, native flowers and pink fish on carefully draped fabrics. Colour is relatively subdued, but used purposefully to create harmony in the composition.

Bibliography (6)

Helen Campbell, Australian art: in the Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'Out of Sydney: city and hinterlands', pg. 185-186, Sydney, 2000, 210 (colour illus.), 301.

Hal Missingham, A retrospective exhibition of Australian painting, Sydney, 1953. 148

National Council of Women, An exhibition of women's achievements in the arts, New South Wales, 1960. 16; Kindly lent by the AGNSW

Barry Pearce, Parallel visions: works from the Australian collection, 'Introduction: Convergent Spirits', pg. 10-19, Sydney, 2002, 18 (colour illus.), 19, 132, 145, 147.

Barry Pearce, Margaret Olley, Sydney, 1996, 16 (illus.), 17.

Meg Stewart, Margaret Olley: far from a still life, Milsons Point, 2005, 185.

Exhibition history (8)

A retrospective exhibition of Australian painting, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 25 Sep 1953–25 Oct 1953

Women's achievements in the arts, David Jones' Art Gallery, Sydney, Sydney, 31 Aug 1960–09 Sep 1960

Margaret Olley Retrospective (1996-97):

Parallel Visions: Twenty-two artists from the Australian collection, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 22 Feb 2002–May 2003

Margaret Olley and Donald Friend (2006):

Cuisine and country: a culinary venture in Australian Art:

Fish in Australian art, Australian National Maritime Museum, Sydney, 05 Apr 2012–26 Aug 2012

Still life, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 27 Jul 2013–23 Apr 2014