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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

Margaret Olley

1995
Adam Knott

type C photograph on paper (sheet: 39.2 cm x 39.2 cm, image: 38.0 cm x 38.0 cm)

Margaret Olley AC (1923–2011), painter, was born in Lismore and studied art at East Sydney Technical College and the Grande Chaumière in Paris. She was well-known on the Sydney post-war art scene and her portrait was painted by both Russell Drysdale and William Dobell. Dobell’s portrait of Olley, dressed in a gown fashioned from surplus wartime parachute silk, won the 1948 Archibald Prize. Olley held her first one-person show that year. It was a sell-out, and from that beginning, she held at least one solo exhibition annually. The Art Gallery of New South Wales honoured her long career with a major retrospective show in 1996–1997. In 1990, she endowed the Margaret Hannah Olley Art Trust, which has funded acquisitions by many Australian institutions including the National Portrait Gallery. One of Sydney’s most recognisable arts identities, in 2011 she was again the subject of an Archibald Prize-winning portrait, this time by Ben Quilty. In March 2014, almost three years after Olley’s death at age 88, the Tweed Regional Gallery opened its Margaret Olley Centre, which includes re-creations of rooms from the late artist’s legendary Sydney home.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of The Hammond Care Group 1999
© Adam Knott

Artist and subject

Adam Knott (age 29 in 1995)

Margaret Olley AC (age 72 in 1995)

Donated by

The Hammond Care Group (2 portraits)

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

The National Portrait Gallery is an Australian Government Agency