The Gallery’s Trustees purchased this work in 1895 from the Society of Artists’ inaugural exhibition, along with Emily Meston’s 'Study of grapes'. Both were included in the prestigious Australian art exhibition held at London’s Grafton Galleries in 1898. 'The cockatoo’s' beautifully painted spray of creamy white plumage shows Margaret Fleming’s mastery of contrasting tonal effects, with the bright, feathered body set within a dimly lit interior.
Born in Nowra and schooled briefly in Sydney under Julian Ashton, Fleming achieved a respectable local reputation as a still-life painter, although very little is known about the artist herself.
oil on canvas
56.5 x 75.2 cm stretcher; 79.0 x 95.0 x 9.0 cm frame
Signature & date
Signed and dated l.l., "M Fleming 1895".
Shown in 5 exhibitions
Society of Artists First Exhibition (1895), York Street Skating Rink, Sydney, 28 Sep 1895–20 Oct 1895
Exhibition of Australian art in London (1898), Grafton Galleries, London, 02 Apr 1898–31 Jul 1898
The Sydney Art School retrospective exhibition, 1890-1933, Vickery's Galleries, Sydney, 01 Mar 1933–28 Mar 1933
Review: works by women from the permanent collection of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 08 Mar 1995–04 Jun 1995
A Bird in the Hand, National Library of Australia, Canberra, 01 Mar 1999–30 Jun 1999
Referenced in 5 publications
Henry Gibbons, The Sydney Art School retrospective exhibition 1890-1933, Sydney, 1933. not paginated, cat.no. 238
Heritage: The national women's art book, Sydney, 1995, 12 (colour illus.). cat.no. 16. Entry by Joan Kerr. Biography by Joan Kerr p350.
Unknown, Australian Artists, Australian Birds, North Ryde, 1989, 88 (colour illus.). plate no. 71
Birds, Canberra, 1999, 9.
Daily telegraph, 'Pictures for the National Gallery', Sydney, 28 Sep 1895, page unknown. From the Art Society Exhibition and priced 7 guineas.