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Australian art

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Self portrait



Margaret Preston

Australia, England, France

29 Apr 1875 - 28 May 1963


Margaret Preston painted this portrait in 1930 at the request of the Trustees of the Art Gallery of New South Wales. She confessed she was thrilled to receive the commission to paint what was, for her, an untested subject. As she later pointed out, '… my self-portrait is completed, but I am a flower painter – I am not a flower'. In a work as carefully designed and as uncompromising as the artist's still-lifes, Preston identifies and separates the essentials of her art: her brush and palette and a pot of wildflowers, a favourite subject, on the sill behind her.




Media category


Materials used

oil on canvas


61.3 x 51.1 cm stretcher; 74.3 x 64.2 x 6.5 cm frame

Signature & date

Signed and dated l.l. corner, pencil "Margaret Preston/30".


Gift of the artist at the request of the Trustees 1930

Accession number


Artist information

Margaret Preston

Artist profile

Works in the collection


Shown in 16 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 48 publications


Jude Adams, Barbara Hall and Jennifer Barber, Project 21: Women's images of women, Sydney, 1977, 2-3. 31; Collection of the Art Gallery of New South Wales

Janine Burke, Australian women artists 1840-1940, Collingwood, 1980, 136 (colour illus.), 175. plate no. 63

Elizabeth Butel, Margaret Preston: the art of constant rearrangement, '1920-1930', pg. 25-49, Ringwood, 1985, 43 (colour illus.), 86. O.10

Roger Arthur Butler, The prints of Margaret Preston: a catalogue raisonné, Canberra, 1987, 17 (illus.).

Roger Arthur Butler, The prints of Margaret Preston: a catalogue raisonné, Canberra, 2005, 23 (colour illus.), 35.

Edmund Capon AM, OBE and Ursula Prunster, Face to face: Australian portraits, Sydney, 1986, (colour illus.). 6

Katrina Cashman., Margaret Preston in Mosman, 'Margaret Preston in Mosman', Mosman, 2002, (colour illus.). not paginated; no catalogue numbers

Louise Chamberlin, Art In Sight, Sydney, 1996, 141, 144, 145, 149, 151, 155, 171.

Jonathan Cooper (Editor), Exhibitions events - Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Aug 2000-Oct 2000, 6 (colour illus., detail), 7.

Penelope Curtin and Tansy Curtin, Blooms and brushstrokes: a floral history of Australian art, 'Flowers A-Z: Christmas bells', pg. 46-47, Mile End, 46, 47 (colour illus.), 193.

Susanna de Vries, The complete book of great Australian women: thirty-six women who changed the course of Australia, 'Margaret Rose Preston', pg. 547-563, Pymble, 2003, 547 (illus.), 557.

Deborah Edwards, Uncommon Australians: towards an Australian portrait gallery, 'Margaret Preston', pg. 89, Sydney, 1992, 89 (colour illus). plate no. 56

Deborah Edwards, Art and Australia (Vol. 43, No. 1), 'Margaret Preston', pg. 103-107, Sydney, Sep 2005-Nov 2005, 105 (colour illus.).

Deborah Edwards and Rose Peel, Margaret Preston: Catalogue raisonné of paintings, monotypes and ceramics, Sydney, 2005, (colour illus.). Artworks: paintings 1930.

Deborah Edwards, Australian art: in the Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'Moderns', pg. 103-104, Sydney, 2000, 104, 121 (colour illus.), 301.

Ewing and George Paton Galleries, Australian women artists: One hundred years 1840-1940, Melbourne, 1975, 28. 48

Graham Ferres and Susan Ferres, Mouse Art: Creating Art On The Computer, Sydney, 1998, plate no. 5 (colour illus.). NOTE: between pages 56-57

Anne Gray, Face: Australian portraits 1880-1960, Canberra, 2010, 92 (colour illus.).

Sasha Grishin, The Canberra times, 'The Preston question', pg. 8-9, Ainslie, 25 Sep 2005, 8 (illus.). 'Relax' lift out from Sunday edition.

John Healey (Editor), S.A.'s greats: the men and women of the North Terrace plaques, 'Margaret Presont (1875-1963), Artist', pg. 106, Kent Town, 2001, 106 (illus.).

Robert Holden, Cover Up: The art of magazine covers in Australia, Sydney, 1995, 21, 26-27, 95.

Joan Kerr, Art Monthly Australia, 'The possibilities of a National Portrait Gallery', pg. 4-8, Canberra, Apr 1999, 7.

Lou Klepac, Barry Pearce, Bruce James, John McDonald, Peter Pinson, Gavin Fry, Sasha Grishin AM and Deborah Hart, Australian painters of the twentieth century, Sydney, 2000, 24.

Rosemary Lloyd, Yearbook of comparative and general literature [Vol. 49, 2001], 'Objects in the mirror: gendering the still life', pg. 39-55, Bloomington, 2002, 47, 53 (illus.).

Rosemary Lloyd, Shimmering in a transformed light: writing the still life, 'Looking in, looking out: objects in the mirror', pg. 114-132, Ithaca, 2005, 126, 127 (illus.), 129. figure no. 13

Alan McCulloch, The Sydney Morning Herald, 'Paintings by the hundred', pg. 24, Sydney, 11 Sep 1963, 24 (illus.).

Humphrey McQueen, The black swan of trespass: the emergence of Modernist painting in Australia to 1944, Sydney, 1979, 153, (colour illus.). plate no. I

Denise Mimmocchi, Sydney moderns: art for a new world, 'Making Sydney modern: the artistic shaping of the postwar city', pg. 66-85, Sydney, 2013, 90 (colour illus.), 315.

Hal Missingham, Art and Australia [series 5, vol. 1, no. 2], 'Margaret Preston', pg. 90-98, Sydney, Aug 1963, 92, 93 (illus.).

Hal Missingham, Artists by artists, Sydney, 1954, 20, 60 (illus.). 57

Drusilla Modjeska, Stravinsky's lunch, 'No Man's Land', pg. 177-202, Sydney, 1999, 191 (illus.), 192,.

Catriona Moore, Margaret Preston, 'Self Portrait', pg. 148, Sydney, 2005, 147, 148, 149 (colour illus.), 266.

William Moore, The story of Australian art from the earliest known art of the continent to the art of today (Vol. 1), 'Galleries', pg. 179-214, Sydney, 1934, (illus.).

Timothy Morrell, Art Monthly Australia, 'To look within: Self portraits in Australia at the University of Queensland Art Museum', pg. 26-29, Canberra, Jul 2004, 27.

Ian North, The art of Margaret Preston, South Australia, 1980, 25 (colour illus.), 48 (illus.). O.28

Georgina Pemberton, H&H: Hoofs & horns, 'Portrait of a lady', pg. 128-129, Neutral Bay, Autumn 2005, 128 (colour illus.).

Ros Pesman, Duty Free - Australian Women Abroad, Sydney, 1996.

Margaret Preston., Exhibition of Australian women painters, 'Introduction', Sydney, 1946. 27; titled 'Self portrait'

Andrew Sayers (Director), National Portrait Gallery, Canberra, 1999, (colour illus.).

Andrew Sayers, To look within: self portraits in Australia, 'The artist's self-portrait in Australia', pg. 6-33, Brisbane, 2004, 18, 19 (colour illus.).

Tristan Sharp, Teaching history, 'Margaret Preston', pg. 4-5, Wareemba, Mar 2005, front cover (colour illus.).

Trustees of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Trustees of the Art Gallery of New South Wales: Minutes 20.12.1929-11.5.1937, Sydney, 1929-1937, 1103 (20 December 1929), 1119 (28 February 1940).

Trustees of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Trustees of the Art Gallery of New South Wales: Minutes 25.5.1923-28.11.1929, Sydney, 1923-1929, 1094-1095 (22 November 1929).

Sydney Ure Smith and Leon Gellert (Editors), Art in Australia [series 3, no. 31], Sydney, Mar 1930, (illus.). 65

Women's Council of the National Gallery and Cultural Centre, Some interesting Australians: a loan collection of portraits, Melbourne, 1967. 64; not paginated

Author Unknown, South Australian Women Artists: 1890s - 1940s, Apr 1994, 11 (colour illus.). figure no. 11

Editor Unknown (Editor), The Sydney Morning Herald, 'Woman painter honoured', pg. 6, Sydney, 09 Apr 1930, (illus.).

Editor Unknown (Editor), Australian artist, 'Australian Icons at the Art Gallery of New South Wales', pg, 4-5, Chatswood, Aug 2000, 5 (colour illus.).