Margaret Preston


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(b Port Adelaide, 29 Apr. 1875; d Sydney, 28 May 1963).

Australian painter, printmaker, writer, and lecturer, active mainly in Sydney. In 1904–7 and 1912–19 she lived in Europe. During the second period, spent mainly in Paris and London, she moved away from an academic style to a more modern idiom influenced by Fauvism. She was ‘a woman of great independence of mind, volatile in temperament, ardently patriotic and consumed by a passion for experimentation in painting media and all kinds of graphic techniques’ (Bernard Smith, Australian Painting: 1778–1990, 1991). Her characteristic subjects included bush landscapes and flower paintings of native flora, and she was devoted to the idea of creating a distinctive national art, promoting this through writing and lecturing. She was one of the first to appreciate Aboriginal art, and much of her own work from the 1940s onwards shows its influence, particularly in her adoption of earthy colours.

Subjects: Art.

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