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Margaret Coen  (1910-1998)
Pansies 1942
28.8 x 39.6 cm
Anonymous gift 1942


Born 1909, Yass, New South Wales. Died 1993, St Ives, New South Wales.

Determined to study art from a young age, Margaret Coen left school to study drawing under Antonio Datillo Rubbo, then at the Royal Art Society of New South Wales. Coen worked in Sydney as a commercial artist during the Depression, forging her career as a painter and watercolourist during a difficult time for women artists. She was well known for her pictures of the Australian landscape, still life and flower paintings and images of everyday life.

Coen’s peers and associates of the 1930s Sydney art set included the illustrious Norman Lindsay, who was also her mentor, as well as Arthur Murch, George Finey, Rah Fizelle, Grace Crowley and Thea Proctor.

Coen was introduced to watercolour by Lindsay when she visited his studio at Springwood in 1930. Lindsay became her mentor and lifelong friend. She often worked alongside him at his Bridge Street studio, eventually taking over the lease in 1946, and was a regular house guest at Springwood in the 1940s.

Coen married poet and literary editor Douglas Stewart. Their daughter, Meg Stewart, is a well known author who has published artist biographies on her mother and Margaret Olley.