Margaret Preston (1875-1963) Bunch of Flowers, 1924

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Lot 31
Margaret Preston
(1875-1963)
Bunch of Flowers, 1924

Sold for AU$ 115,900 (US$ 85,354) inc. premium
Margaret Preston (1875-1963)
Bunch of Flowers, 1924
signed and dated lower right: 'Margaret Preston / 24'
oil on canvas
56 x 40.5cm (22 1/16 x 15 15/16in).

Footnotes

  • PROVENANCE
    Society of Artists, Sydney
    Private collection, Ireland
    thence by descent
    Private collection, Ireland

    EXHIBITED
    Society of Artists, Annual Exhibition, Education Department's Art Gallery, Sydney, 12 September - 4 October 1924, cat. 98

    LITERATURE
    Denise Mimmochi, Margaret Preston: Catalogue Raisonne of Paintings, Monotypes and Ceramics, CD-ROM, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 2005 (Bunch of Flowers, c.1924)


    Margaret Preston travelled to Europe on her second study tour in 1912 with good friend and potter, Gladys Reynell, living between Paris and Brittany in 1913-14 before moving to London at the outbreak of war. Preston exhibited widely in London at the Royal Academy, New English Art Club and Society of Women Artists before returning to Australia in 1919.

    'She considered the move as a new phase of her career. Marrying William Preston on the last day of 1919, she began the new decade as Margaret Preston. The 1920's, a decade of particular prominence for modernist women artists, became an exceptional one for Margaret Preston. She brought to Australian modernism the principles of modern decorative organisation and its affiliated concept of design, and moved to the forefront of progressive art of the era. Her works encapsulate the decade's preoccupation with rhythmic construction and geometrical structure. Preston produced an exceptional body of work which became, and has remained, crucially important to the traditions of Australian art.1

    Frequent articles in publications such as Art and Australia, as well as solo and group exhibitions with the Society of Artists, Australian Art Association and Macquarie Galleries, all contributed to Preston's rise within Sydney's cultural circles. Inspired by her recent experiences abroad 'Preston now focused on the cultural application of her work, developing her preoccupation with the idea of forging a modern, distinctly Australian art. Her forceful opinions, expressed in a wide range of lectures, press interviews and body of writings, established her as one of the most important and provocative public voices of the decade and polarised the Sydney community into camps of advocates and detractors.'2

    'The decade saw her most prolific output... she engaged in paintings, prints, crafts and design, leading an Australian revival of colour woodblock printing with vibrant images of the modern metropolis and stylised depictions of Australian flowers, which have guaranteed her perennial popularity. It can be argued that for many, Preston's works reconceived the forms of Australian Flora.'3

    The present work, Bunch of Flowers, 1924 is a fine example painted at a pivotal juncture in the artist's career, the same year as the highly commended Thea Proctor's Tea Party, 1924 (now in the collection of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney). In the background, Preston applies a restrained palette constructing a geometric arrangement of vertical and horizontal brickwork, allowing the vibrant colours of the flowers to flourish, all of which culminates in a harmonious composition.

    1. Deborah Edwards, Margaret Preston, Art Gallery of New South Wales, 2005, p. 61
    2. Ibid, p. 275
    3. Ibid, p. 61
Contacts
Margaret Preston (1875-1963) Bunch of Flowers, 1924
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