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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.

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Self portrait with Bottlebrush

1991
Margaret Olley AC

oil on board (frame: 91.3 cm x 116.2 cm depth 4.6 cm)

Margaret Olley AC (1923–2011), painter, was well known in the Sydney postwar 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 35 of her intimate, brilliantly coloured interiors and still lifes sold out again. In the 1980s she endowed the Margaret Hannah Olley Art Trust, of which several Australian galleries, including the National Portrait Gallery, have been beneficiaries. Olley remained a prominent arts identity to her death, continuing to paint, and posing for numerous portraits by younger artists she encouraged. Tweed River Art Gallery is home to the Margaret Olley Art Centre which includes a reproduction of Olley's studio and living space.

Though Olley is considered primarily a painter of interiors and still life, she was involved in portraiture consistently throughout her career, and her self portraits are a wonderful synthesis of both aspects of her practice. Employing the mirror motif, Olley's self portrait is simultaneously evocative of both her inner life and the vivid, external world of her home and studio – bursting with flowers, fruit, artworks and artefacts – in which she found endless inspiration.

Purchased with funds provided by Marilyn Darling AC and the Sid and Fiona Myer Family Foundation 2021
© Margaret Olley Art Trust

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

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 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.

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