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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

1998
Lewis Morley

gelatin silver photograph on paper (sheet: 30.5 cm x 40.2 cm, image: 24.1 cm x 36.6 cm, frame: depth 4.2 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. In 1991 she reprised her success of 43 years before, when a show of 35 of her intimate, brilliantly-coloured interiors and still lifes sold out again. The Art Gallery of New South Wales held a major retrospective show of her long career in 1996–1997. Her work is represented in the National Gallery of Australia; all State galleries; and numerous regional, corporate and private collections. In 1990, she endowed the Margaret Hannah Olley Art Trust, which has funded acquisitions by many Australian institutions including the National Portrait Gallery. Remaining one of Sydney’s most recognisable arts identities, Olley was again the subject of an Archibald Prize-winning portrait, this time by Ben Quilty, in 2011. She and Morley were introduced to each other by Barry Humphries, and became close friends.

Gift of the artist 2003. Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program.
© Lewis Morley Archive LLC

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. Works of art from the collection are reproduced as per the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). The use of images of works from the collection may be restricted under the Act. Requests for a reproduction of a work of art can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

Artist and subject

Lewis Morley (age 73 in 1998)

Margaret Olley AC (age 75 in 1998)

Donated by

Lewis Morley (49 portraits)

Related information

The Companion

Permanent collection catalogue

Café and shop

On one level The Companion talks about the most famous and frontline Australians, but on another it tells us about ourselves: who we read, who we watch, who we listen to, who we cheer for, who we aspire to be, and who we'll never forget. The Companion is available to buy online and in the Portrait Gallery Store.

Cathy Freeman, 1994
Cathy Freeman, 1994
Cathy Freeman, 1994
Cathy Freeman, 1994

Depth of Field

Magazine article by Lauren Dalla, 2004

The exhibition Depth of Field displays a selection of portrait photographs that reflect the strength and diversity of Australian achievement.

Lewis Morley
Lewis Morley
Lewis Morley
Lewis Morley

Myself and Eye

Magazine article by Magda Keaney, 2003

Magda Keaney speaks with Lewis Morley about his photographic career and the major retrospective of his work on display at the NPG.

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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 past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

This website comprises and contains copyrighted materials and works. Copyright in all materials and/or works comprising or contained within this website remains with the National Portrait Gallery and other copyright owners as specified.

The National Portrait Gallery respects the artistic and intellectual property rights of others. The use of images of works of art reproduced on this website and all other content may be restricted under the Australian Copyright Act 1968 (Cth). Requests for a reproduction of a work of art or other content can be made through a Reproduction request. For further information please contact NPG Copyright.

The National Portrait Gallery is an Australian Government Agency