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Australian art

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Still life with pink fish



Margaret Olley


24 Jun 1923 - 25 Jul 2011


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.


Place where the work was made

Sydney New South Wales Australia



Media category


Materials used

oil on cheesecloth on hardboard


76.3 x 97.0 cm board; 93.0 x 113.2 x 7.5 cm frame

Signature & date

Signed and dated l.l. corner, brown oil "Olley 48".


Purchased 1948

Accession number


Artist information

Margaret Olley

Artist profile

Works in the collection



Where the work was made

Shown in 10 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 7 publications


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.

Ingrid Hedgcock, A shared obsession: Margaret Olley & Fred Jessup, 'A shared obsession: Margaret Olley & Fred Jessup', pg. 13-34, Murwillumbah, 2019, 15 (colour illus.), 16, 62.

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

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

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