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Australian art

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Grey day in the ranges



Margaret Preston

Australia, England, France

29 Apr 1875 - 28 May 1963


Although Margaret Preston is known primarily for her paintings and woodblock prints of flowers and still life, a period spent living amidst bushland at Berowra in the late 1930s led her to concentrate on landscapes during the 1940s. At this time too, her interest and belief in the importance of Aboriginal art deepened, inspiring a reduction of her palette to earth-toned colours, simplification of form with strong black outlining, and use of dots and marks to signify physical details in the landscape.

As a result of her interest in Oriental painting and European modernism, Preston is recognised as perhaps the first artist to advocate the use of Aboriginal designs and motifs in the development of a modern national art - initially for domestic items and furnishings but later extended to colour, technique and subject matter in art.

Australian Art Department, AGNSW, 2001




Media category


Materials used

oil on hardboard


51.0 x 50.7 cm board; 66.7 x 66.9 x 6.5 cm frame

Signature & date

Signed and dated l.r. corner, pencil "M Preston / 1942".


Purchased 1942


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Margaret Preston

Artist profile

Works in the collection


Shown in 16 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 32 publications


Aboriginal art', Look, 'Preston's Aboriginal inspiration: how Margaret Preston was influenced, pg. 16-17, Melbourne, Sep 2001, 16, 17 (colour illus.).

Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of New South Wales Annual Report 2002, 'Year in review', pg. 8-25, Sydney, 2002, 15.

Claire Baddeley (Curator), Motif & meaning: Aboriginal influences in Australian art, 1930-1970, Ballarat, 1999.

Ronald M. Berndt and E.S. Phillips (Editors), The Australian Aboriginal heritage: an introduction through the arts, Sydney, 1973, 309 (colour illus.).

Ruth Burgers., Oz arts magazine [issue 6], 'Light in the forest', Wentworth Falls, 1993, 58.

Janine Burke, Australian women artists 1840-1940, Collingwood, 1980, 128 (illus.), 175.

Elizabeth Butel, Margaret Preston: the art of constant rearrangement, Ringwood, 1985, 86. O.16

Joanna Capon, Yin-yang : China in Australia, 'The influence of China on Australian Art', pg. 47-55, Sydney, 2008, 14, 15 (colour illus.).

Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev (Curator), dOCUMENTA (13): the book of books, 'Participants, biographies, and exhibited objects and works', pg. 674-725, Ostfildern, 2012, 712.

Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev (Curator), dOCUMENTA (13): das begleitbuch / the guidebook, 'Margaret Preston', pg. 170-171, Ostfildern, 2012, 170, 171 (colour illus.).

Deborah Edwards, Margaret Preston, ‘An art for Australia from Australians 1940s-1950s', pg.173-250, Sydney, 2005, 188, 194, 199, 200, 202, 253, 259, 264, 201 (colour illus.), 265 (colour illus.).

Deborah Edwards, Art Monthly Australia, 'Margaret Preston: reviewing the landscape', pg. 19-23, Canberra, Dec 2002-Feb 2003, 21 (colour illus.), 22.

Deborah Edwards, Australian art: in the Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'Moderns', pg. 103-104, Sydney, 2000, 120 (colour illus.), 301.

Deborah Edwards, Australian Collection Focus: Margaret Preston The brown pot 1940, I lived at Berowra 1941, Grey day in the ranges 1942, 'An art for Australia, from Australians', pg. 3-9, Sydney, 2002, 4, 7,8, 6 (colour illus.).

Deborah Edwards and Rose Peel, Margaret Preston: Catalogue raisonné of paintings, monotypes and ceramics, Sydney, 2005, (colour illus.). Artworks: paintings 1942.

Alan McCulloch, Encyclopedia of Australian art (Vol.2, L-Z), Hawthorn East, 1984, 445, 635 (illus.).

Humphrey McQueen, The black swan of trespass: the emergence of Modernist painting in Australia to 1944, Sydney, 1979, (colour illus.). plate III

Denise Mimmocchi and Deborah Edward, Art and Australia (Vol. 43, No. 1), 'Margaret Preston', pg. 100-107, Sydney, Sep 2005-Nov 2005, 107.

Hal Missingham., Art and Australia [series 5, vol. 1, no. 2], 'Margaret Preston', Sydney, Aug 1963, front cover (colour illus.).

National Art Gallery of New South Wales, Margaret Preston and William Dobell loan exhibition, Sydney, 1942. 45

Ian North, The art of Margaret Preston, South Australia, 1980, 50 (illus.). O.36

Barry Pearce, Look, 'A quiet love affair: private passion over 33 years gives birth to a book', pg. 26-29, Sydney, Sep 2014, 29 (colour illus.). extract

Margaret Preston., Exhibition of Australian women painters, 'Introduction', Sydney, 1946. 26

Ursula Prunster, Seeing is believing: the art in photography, Sydney, 1985. 38; not paginated

Joanne Raheb-Mol, Art & Mind, Melbourne, 1998, 135 (colour illus.). plate no. 9.4

Donald Richardson, Introducing art: a first book on the history and appreciation of the visual arts, Melbourne, 1990, 225 (illus.).

Virginia Spate, Aspects of Australian figurative painting 1942-1962: dreams, fears and desires, 'Introduction', pg. 7-18, Sydney, 1984, 27, 91, 16 (colour illus.). 15

Graeme Sullivan, Seeing Australia: views of artists and artwriters, Annandale, 1994, 94 (illus.).

Eleonora Triguboff (Editor), Art & Australia, 'The place where thought and action meet: dOCUMENTA (13)'s Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev in conversation with Wes Hill', pg. 562-567, Sydney, Winter 2012, 564, 565 (colour illus.).

Trustees of the National Art Gallery of New South Wales, One hundred years of Australian art, Sydney, circa 1945. 39

Nick Waterlow (Director), The 1988 Australian Biennale: from the Southern Cross: a view of world art c.1940-88, "Exhibiting artists 57-275; List of works in the exhibition", pg. 276-282, Sydney, 1988, 225 (colour illus.), 281.

The National Art Gallery of NSW: Australian landscape painting, Sydney, 1951. 13