A turn-of-the-century Australian Impressionist painting has been purchased to celebrate Olley’s legacy.
One of Australia’s most respected and beloved painters has been honoured by the Art Gallery of New South Wales with a work by Edwardian artist Emanuel Phillips Fox, purchased in memory of Margaret Olley.
At the official unveiling today, gallery director Edmund Capon was full of praise for Olley, a generous patron of the arts who donated more than 130 works to the Art Gallery of NSW. The 88-year-old painter of still lifes died in her Sydney home in July and a state memorial service was held at the gallery on August 24.
“Margaret Olley would have loved this painting as Phillips Fox was one of her favourite artists,” said Capon. The painting, Nasturtiums, depicts one of Phillips Fox’s favourite models, fellow Australian artist Edith Anderson, reading a book and reclining in a tranquil garden setting. Capon described the work, purchased for $610,000, as a “peaceful picture”, one in a series of women-in-garden paintings that Phillips Fox created in a fruitful period of 1911-12 and that Olley treasured for its use of dappled light and natural colour.
“Nasturtiums is a superb addition to the Gallery’s collection and joins major paintings from the Edwardian and belle époque era by expatriates Rupert Bunny, John Russell, Ethel Carrick Fox and Phillips Fox himself,” said Capon. The painting will reside in the gallery as part of a collection of Australian-French paintings — Phillips Fox trained in Paris and travelled extensively in Europe before his return to Australia in 1913.
In 2006 Olley was appointed a Companion of the Order of Australia for her painting, philanthropy to the arts and encouragement of young artists. Just weeks before her death, a new portrait of the great Australian painter by her protégé Ben Quilty won the 2011 Archibald Prize.