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Margaret Preston (1875-1963)
A Darwin Bunch 1940
oil on canvas
43.4 x 43 cm
Gift of Howard Hinton 1943
Sponsored by Philip Bacon in 2015 for the Adopt An Artwork Program

 

Born 1875, Port Adelaide, South Australia. Died 1963, Mosman, New South Wales.

One of Australia’s most significant artists, Margaret Preston was a key figure in the development of modern art in Sydney from the 1920s to the 1950s. Through her paintings and woodcuts of native flora and local landscapes she endeavoured to create a uniquely Australian style.

Preston’s art tutelage with W. Lister Lister in Sydney, then at the National Gallery of Victoria Art School, under Frederick McCubbin, and the Adelaide School of Design, had a formative influence on the outspoken young artist. Travel and study in Europe was also critical where, in Paris, she exhibited with the French Post-Impressionists. Her experience of Japanese art and the adoption of cubist principles can be seen in the simplified pictorial space and underlying structure of form which imbued her later work.

Commercial success and fame arrived for Preston in the 1920s with the regular publication of articles and reproduction of her pictures in women’s magazines, particularly Sydney Ure Smith’s journals Home and Art in Australia. Colourful woodcut views of Sydney Harbour and still lifes with vases of flowers, such as A Darwin Bunch, remain her best known work.