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Australian art

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(Flowers with peacock feathers)

circa 1944


Margaret Coen


04 Apr 1909 - 27 Aug 1993


The Sydney-based Margaret Coen is known for her long artistic career as a watercolour painter. From the 1930s, as she established her reputation as an exhibiting painter and was also working as a commercial artist. She was part of a hub of artists, both traditional and modern, who worked from the network of studios in inner-city Sydney. Coen was a regular exhibitor with the Royal Art Society, from which she become recognised for her trademark watercolour landscapes and still life subjects, and in particular for her luminously-coloured evocations of flower arrangements.

In 1940 Coen took over Norman Lindsay’s studio in Bridge Street, Sydney. She had not worked much in oils to this point, but inheriting a studio space set up for oil painting appears to have inspired her shift in mediums, and with it consider new approaches to her still life painting.

('Flower with peacock feathers') is an outstanding example of Coen’s work in oils. The work is robustly lavish and its baroque composition, with its interplay of the foreground forms of flowers, peacock feathers and the abstracted patterns of the fabric backdrop, is confidently resolved. Coen’s palette is expansive, and executed with a brush that is fully loaded to sumptuously layer the rich colour. Coen’s still life has reference to both the genre’s traditions of Dutch painting and the modern school of Sydney art during the inter-war decades.



circa 1944

Media category


Materials used

oil on canvas on board


70.3 x 56.2 cm sight; 71.0 x 56.9 cm board; 89.0 x 74.9 x 5.0 cm frame

Signature & date

Signed l.r. corner, red oil "MARGARET COEN". Not dated.


Gift of Meg Stewart 2019


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Margaret Coen

Works in the collection


Shown in 3 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 5 publications


Margaret Coen, The art of Margaret Coen /​ S.H. Ervin Gallery, 'Catalogue', pg. 3-4, Sydney, 1991, 3.

Margaret Coen, Exhibition of paintings by Margaret Coen, 'Oil Paintings/ Flowerpieces', pg. 3, Brisbane, 1946, 3. possibly cat. no. 30, listed as ‘Mixed Bunch’

Meg Stewart, From the studio: Margaret Coen, 'List of works', pg. 40-45, Sydney, 2017, 41.

Meg Stewart, Margaret Coen: a passion for painting, (colour illus.), Sydney, 1997, 71.

Meg Stewart, Margaret Coen: a passion for painting, 'List of works', pg. 143-148, Sydney, 1997, 145.