Margaret Olley at 83 is one of Australia's most generous individual benefactors. This year Olley was honoured in the Queen's Birthday list for her services to art. To date she has given the Art Gallery of New South Wales some 130 works of art worth $7 million dollars.
These most recent gifts include a wonderful lithograph by Picasso from 1945 depicting the artist's mistress Françoise Gillot. Picasso met her in 1943 and she soon began appearing with obsessive regularity in his paintings, drawings and prints. The work by Cézanne, Large bathers (1896/97), is one of the artist's iconic images. It shows a group of bathers set in a Provencal landscape dominated by Mont Saint-Victoire. Sharply contrasting with this work is Pierre Bonnard's vibrant colour lithograph, The Red Cloth (c.1946), an interior study displaying the artist's sensitivity to intimate and domesticated spaces. In keeping with the style of this print is a colour drawing Breton House, Saint-Jacut by Bonnard's friend and peer Edouard Vuillard, which Olley purchased for the gallery late last year.
Edmund Capon, Director of the Art Gallery of New South Wales said:
"There is no more passionate supporter of the arts in this country than the indefatigable, ever-inspirational Margaret Olley. Her love of great art and great artists and her resolute belief in the goodwill of art is demonstrated yet again in this latest benefaction – of some of her absolute favourites – Cézanne, Bonnard and Picasso. They are fantastic additions to the collection and will bear her indelible name."
Last week an exhibition of Margaret Olley's own work opened at Lismore Regional gallery featuring 50 years of her artistic career. It was mounted to celebrate her 83rd birthday in the town where she was born.