Australian legend, number 2: The terrible story
Australia, England, France
29 Apr 1875 - 28 May 1963
"In wishing to rid myself of the mannerisms of a country other than my own I have gone to the art of a people who had never seen or known anything different from themselves ... These are the Australian aboriginals [sic] and it is only from the art of such people in any land that a national art can spring."
- Margaret Preston 1925
Margaret Preston's appreciation and understanding of Aboriginal art and culture grew in sophistication from the time she made her first pronouncements on the subject in the 1920s. During her life she made several visits to Central and Northern Australia, and visited rock art sites in and around Sydney, where she lived. The Australian legend series was made towards the end of her career and integrates colours and compositions derived from Aboriginal paintings, as well as motifs from rock art. For example, the large human footprints in each of these prints were taken from rock carvings in the Sydney area which Preston had seen on excursions with the Anthropological Society of New South Wales.
Australian Art Department, AGNSW, 2000
The terrible story
colour woodcut on tan laid Japanese paper
29.4 x 29.0 cm blockmark; 36.3 x 32.5 cm sheet
Signature & date
Signed in block to print l.l., incised "MP".
Signed l.r. beneath blockmark, pencil "Margaret Preston". Not dated.
Gift of W.G. Preston, the artist's widower 1967
Not on display
© Margaret Rose Preston Estate, licensed by Viscopy, Sydney
Shown in 3 exhibitions
Acquisitions 1967, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 06 Mar 1968–01 Apr 1968
Margaret Preston: the art of constant rearrangement, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 27 Dec 1985–09 Feb 1986
Australian icons: twenty artists from the collection, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 04 Aug 2000–03 Dec 2000
Referenced in 4 publications
Elizabeth Butel, Margaret Preston: the art of constant rearrangement, Ringwood, 1985, 58 (colour illus.), 93. cat.no. P.76; titled 'The terrible story'
Roger Arthur Butler, The prints of Margaret Preston: a catalogue raisonné, Canberra, 1987, 294 (colour illus.). cat.no. 402
Roger Arthur Butler, The prints of Margaret Preston: a catalogue raisonné, Canberra, 2005, 327 (colour illus.). cat.no. 402
Nicholas Thomas, Possessions: indigenous art / colonial culture, 'Hierarchies: from traditional to contemporary', pg. 196-223, London, 1999, 212 (illus.), 297. illus.no. 127