Margaret Preston: Life Summary and Description of 3 Artworks

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Artworks: Native Flowers, Mixed Flowers and Implement BLue

Margaret Preston was born on the 29th of April 1875 in Port Adelaide. Throughout her career, she produced over 400 artworks applying diverse techniques such as etching, monotyping, woodcutting, stenciling and painting. She was both a painter, specializing in still life, landscape, and portraits, and a print maker. She is widely recognized as one of the most famous female Australian artists.

Margaret studied art in Victoria and Adelaide. She also studied under William Lister Lister, and Frederick McCubbin, one of the founders of the Heidelberg School, an art movement in Australia during the late 19th century. Her art was shaped by the influences of her international travels and studies in Europe between 1904 and 1919, including to Munich, Paris, Italy, Spain and Holland.

In Europe, she was inspired by French post-impressionists. While using impressionistic techniques, post-impressionists preferred to take more of an interest to form and structure, as well as using thick, bold, visible brushstrokes. Preston was inspired at that time by famous artists such as Paul Cezanne, Paul Gauguin, and Vincent Van Gogh.

Preston also traveled to Japan and South East Asia, increasing the aspects of asymmetrical design and close observation in her work. Especially inspired by Japanese printmaking, Preston cut bold and decorative prints and used them in many artworks as well as landscape prints.

Her later paintings and monotypes show that she had a great interest in Aboriginal art. She often used Australian subjects in her work and used techniques she developed during her travels. This was unusual for artists back then because this was during the time of ‘White Australia’.

In 1929, Preston became the first female artist commissioned by the Art Gallery of New South Wales to paint a self-portrait. Preston later gained international recognition in 1937 when she was awarded a Silver Medal at the Paris...
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