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John Perceval AO

1923 – 2000

John Perceval AO (1923-2000) was a painter and ceramic artist. Early on, along with Sidney Nolan, Arthur Boyd and Albert Tucker, he was part of a loose group of largely self-taught Australian artists, now known as the Angry Penguins, who rebelled against the conservatism of the art establishment. In the 1940s he went to work as a potter and sculptor with the Boyd family at Murrumbeena. He married Mary Boyd, younger sister of Arthur, and three of their four children became painters. Joint winner of the Wynne Prize for landscape art in 1960, Perceval remains known as one of the leading Australian landscape painters of the 1950s and 1960s. His ceramic work from the same period includes a celebrated series of representations of angels. In the 1980s his long-term alcoholism saw Perceval consigned to a psychiatric hospital. During his time there his old 'comrades of the canvas' would take him out painting, paying for his materials and models. By 1988 he had moved to an elderly persons' hostel in Kew, and was able to show some new work at a South Yarra gallery. The National Gallery of Victoria held a large retrospective of his work in 1990. Before he died, his painting Scudding Swans 1959 set the record for the highest price for a painting by a living Australian artist.

Updated 2018