Melbourne-born Violet Teague achieved recognition as a fashionable portrait painter in the early 1900s. In the 1890s she had studied in Brussels and London. During this time, a diverse range of artists across the tradition of the grand portrait style, including Titian, Velazquez and Gainsborough greatly inspired her, as did the great innovators of modern portraiture, including the Americans Sargent and Whistler.
Returning to Australia in 1895, Teague continued her studies at the National Gallery School and attended summer schools run by Emanuel Phillips Fox, an artist she maintained a close association with.
The subject matter of 'Margaret Alice' is significant. It is rare to find images of women in relation to sport from this period of Australian art. As Victoria Hammond has noted in relation to this work “This kind of image represents a landmark in the suffragists’ battle for women’s health and greater physical mobility; in the 1880s it was considered risqué for a woman to engage in strenuous physical exercise”1.
The artist Stella Bowen recalled the ordeal of playing tennis in her youth: “it took great courage to cross those immense lawns, hoping you would have enough petticoats (it was a crime to reveal you were a bi-ped above the hem-line, a difficult thing to conceal in the slanting Australian sunlight).”
'Margaret Alice' is one of the outstanding portraits in Teague’s oeuvre. The work is sumptuously rich in its ambience and elaborations of dress, fabric, textures and colours schemes.
1. Hammond, Victoria, 'A century of Australian women artists 1840s – 1940s', 1993, p. 15
oil on canvas
193.2 x 91.5 cm stretcher; 214.5 x 113.5 x 10.0 cm frame
Signature & date
Signed l.r. corner, black oil "Violet Teague.". Dated u.l. corner, black oil ".../ AD 1900.".
Purchased 2017 with funds provided by the Australian Masterpiece Fund, including the following major donors: Barbara Gole (in memory of), Antoinette Albert, Anita & Luca Belgiorno-Nettis AM, Andrew Cameron AM & Cathy Cameron, Krystyna Campbell-Pretty & the late Harold Campbell-Pretty, Rowena Danziger AM & Ken Coles AM, Kiera Grant, Alexandra Joel & Philip Mason, Carole Lamerton & John Courtney, Alf Moufarrige AO, Elizabeth Ramsden, Susan Rothwell, Denis Savill, Penelope Seidler AM, Denyse Spice, Georgie Taylor , Max & Nola Tegel, Ruth Vincent
Shown in 4 exhibitions
Victorian Artists Society, Victorian Artists Society, Melbourne, 05 Nov 1900–Nov 1900
The Commonwealth exhibition of Australian art, Society of Artists, Sydney, Jan 1901–Jan 1901
Completing the Picture: Women artists and the Heidelberg Era, S.H. Ervin Gallery, The Rocks, 02 Oct 1992–25 Oct 1992
A century of Australian women artists 1840s – 1940s, Deutscher Fine Art (Melbourne), Malvern, 03 Jun 1993–03 Jul 1993
Referenced in 8 publications
Richard Neville, Violet Teague, ‘Violet Teague’s portraits’, Sydney, 1999, pg. 27, 39 (colour illus.), 51.
The Age, Melbourne, 08 Nov 1900, pg. 6.
Table Talk, 08 Nov 1900, pg. 15.
Commonwealth exhibition of Australian art, Sydney, 1901, n.p.. In background of photograph of the selection and hanging committee
Completing the Picture: Women artists and the Heidelberg era, Hawthorn East, 1992, pg. 87. cat.no. 69
A century of Australian women artists 1840s – 1940s, Malvern, 1993, pg. 15 (colour illus.). cat.no. 38
The Argus, Melbourne, 03 Nov 1900, pg. 15.
Look, Sydney, May 2018-Jun 2018, 27 (colour illus.).