Part 1: Important Fine Art
28 November 2012


(1923 - 2011)

oil on composition board

69.0 x 92.0 cm

signed lower right: Olley

Private sale

Philip Bacon Galleries, Brisbane (label attached verso)
Private collection, Queensland

Catalogue text

When we view an interior still life by Margaret Olley we are transported into her private world. "In her paintings the space surrounding each bowl of fruit, each vase of flowers, and through which the eye traverses a cacophony of surfaces such as patterned carpets, modulated walls and cluttered table-tops, resounds with her presence", comments Barry Pearce on the dust jacket of her Art Gallery of New South Wales retrospective catalogue.1 Spanish Jug and Kelim of 2001 epitomises the author's commentary many aspects. It is a highly characteristic example of Olley's personal interpretation of the European nature morteĀ tradition in its depiction of the artist's treasured collection of ceramics and objets d'art which decorated her studio and home in Paddington.The composition shows her knack for selecting and assembling her subject in a seemingly casual way and then bathing it in the gentle light, which filtered through the doorways and windows of her famous Paddington studio home.

Spanish Jug and Kelim evokes a great sense of intimacy as though we are observing a private moment in time. The female figure floating in the shadowy background arranges a laid table, perhaps in readiness for another painting, oblivious to our gaze. The scene has a similar sensibility as Edouard Vuillard's domestic interior paintings, with their ambiguous source of light, lush textiles and decorative arts littering the compositions. Olley travelled extensively with her artistic milieu and brought home many aides-memoire of her journeys and indeed she had travelled to Spain and Majorca on several occasions. Thus rustic Spanish ceramic ware often found a prominent place in her works. On a trip to Asia in 1983 she was accompanied by tribal rug expert Geoff Kitto and the artist botanical artist Paul Jones. Following this trip, Kelim rugs and rich tapestries would regularly feature in her paintings and a new lavishness was found in her interior scenes such as The Chinese Screen and Yellow Room, 1996 now in the Art Gallery of New South Wales.

1. Pearce, B., Margaret Olley, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 1996