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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.

Self portrait with Bottlebrush

1991
Margaret Olley AC

oil on board (frame: 91.3 cm x 116.2 cm depth 4.6 cm)
Image not available (NC)

Margaret Olley AC (1923-2011), painter, studied art at East Sydney Technical College and the Grande Chaumière in Paris. She was well known in the Sydney post war art scene and her portrait was painted by Drysdale and Dobell – Dobell’s painting won the 1948 Archibald Prize. Olley held her first one-person show that year. It was a sellout, and she held at least one solo exhibition annually from then on. In 1991 she reprised her success of 43 years before, when a show of thirty-five 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 1996/7. Olley remained one of Sydney’s best-known arts identities to her death, curating an exhibition with Barry Humphries called ‘Favourites’ at the SH Ervin Gallery in 2002, continuing to paint, and posing for numerous portraits by younger artists she encouraged, including Nicholas Harding and Ben Quilty. In the 1980s she endowed the Margaret Hannah Olley Art Trust, of which several Australian galleries, including the National Portrait Gallery, have been beneficiaries. Quilty’s portrait of Olley won the Archibald Prize in 2011. Tweed River Art Gallery is home to the Margaret Olley Art Centre which includes a reproduction of Olley’s studio and living space.

Purchased with funds provided by Marilyn Darling AC and the Sid and Fiona Myer Family Foundation 2021

Artist and subject

Margaret Olley AC (age 68 in 1991)

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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