A painter who lived most of her live in Nowra, she came to Sydney in order to study at Julian Ashton's. He painted her portrait in 1893. Fleming was included in the first exhibition of the Society of Artists in 1895.
painter, was born and lived most of her life in Nowra (New South Wales). Crippled from youth, she was sent by her father to live for a time in King Street, Sydney, so that she could manage daily classes at Julian Ashton 's Sydney Art School on crutches. As with many other favourite women students, Ashton painted her portrait (dated Christmas 1893, oil on wood panel, purchased from Sotheby’s in 1988 by Westfarmers Western Australia). Although best known for her still-life work, Margaret Fleming also painted portraits (e.g. Dr Hodgkinson as a boy, for his mother) as well as genre studies (e.g. Country Visitors c.1894).
Her still life “Study of Birds” was shown in the annual exhibition of the Art Society in Sydney in October 1894, and described by a reviewer as having “the neutral tints of the plumage delicately enforced in effective contrast” . She was an early member of the Society of Artists when it broke away from the Art Society in 1895 , and exhibited at its first exhibition in Sydney in September 1895. At that exhibition her still life “Cockatoo” was bought by the Art Gallery of NSW for £7/7/- , and was one of seven of the pictures bought that were reproduced in a newspaper at the time . It was exhibited at the Exhibition of Australian Art held at the Grafton Gallery, London in 1898. She gave her young niece, Annie McIlwraith, (1888-1969), her first painting lessons before Annie too went to Ashton’s, and probably taught art to other young women of the Nowra region.
An advertisement for the sale of the assets of a deceased estate in December 1904, which included a painting of hers, described her as an “eminent artist” , and in 1913 a journalistic survey of the contribution Australian women had made to the arts included her name amongst the women artists .
She died on 18 July 1935. Her obituary in The Shoalhaven News and South Coast Districts Advertiser makes no mention of her activities as an artist.
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