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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.).

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

Joanna Capon, Yin-yang : China in Australia, 'The influence of China on Australian Art', pg. 47-55, Sydney, 2008, 14, 15 (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 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, Australian art: in the Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'Moderns', pg. 103-104, Sydney, 2000, 120 (colour illus.), 301.

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.).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Australian Aboriginal heritage: an introduction through the arts, Sydney, 1973, 309 (colour illus.).

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

Margaret Preston and William Dobell loan exhibition, Sydney, 1942. 45

One hundred years of Australian art, Sydney, circa 1945. 39

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

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

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

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.).

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

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

Motif & meaning: Aboriginal influences in Australian art, 1930-1970, Ballarat, 1999.

Art & Mind, Melbourne, 1998, 135 (colour illus.). plate no. 9.4

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

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.).

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.