Still life with pink fish
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.
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".
Where the work was made
Shown in 10 exhibitions
A retrospective exhibition of Australian painting, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 25 Sep 1953–25 Oct 1953
Women's achievements in the arts, David Jones' Art Gallery, Sydney, Sydney, 31 Aug 1960–09 Sep 1960
Margaret Olley Retrospective (1996-97):
Parallel Visions: Twenty-two artists from the Australian collection, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 22 Feb 2002–May 2003
Margaret Olley and Donald Friend (2006):
Cuisine and country: a culinary venture in Australian Art:
- Orange Regional Gallery, Orange 06 Apr 2007–20 May 2007
- Lake Macquarie City Art Gallery, Booragul 08 Jun 2007–22 Jul 2007
- Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery, Mornington 28 Aug 2007–21 Oct 2007
- Wagga Wagga Art Gallery, Australia 26 Oct 2007–09 Dec 2007
- Riddoch Art Gallery, Mt Gambier 15 Dec 2007–15 Feb 2008
- Broken Hill City Art Gallery, Broken Hill 26 Mar 2008–05 May 2008
- Manly Art Gallery and Museum, Manly 16 May 2008–15 Jun 2008
- Cairns Art Gallery, Cairns 01 Jul 2008–15 Aug 2008
- Artspace Mackay, Queensland 31 Aug 2008–30 Sep 2008
Fish in Australian art, Australian National Maritime Museum, Sydney, 05 Apr 2012–26 Aug 2012
Still life, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 27 Jul 2013–23 Apr 2014
A shared obsession: Margaret Olley & Fred Jessup, Tweed Regional Gallery & Margaret Olley Art Centre, Murwillumbah, 28 Jun 2019–17 Nov 2019
The Mystery of Things; Margaret Olley & David Strachan, Tweed Regional Gallery & Margaret Olley Art Centre, Murwillumbah
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. cat.no. 148
National Council of Women, An exhibition of women's achievements in the arts, New South Wales, 1960. cat.no. 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.