Artist's Biography

Born at Bruce Rock in Western Australia in 1923, Perceval was known as a painter, mostly in oil, enamel and tempera as well as some watercolour. In addition, Perceval also worked as a  potter and ceramic sculptor.


No formal art training.  As a child he showed an ability to draw with extraordinary precision and an enforced stay in bed due to infantile paralysis when he was fifteen enabled him to further develop his talent.

During the 1930’s, following the depression years, he worked as a dairy farmer and a window dresser.  Joined the army to serve in the Army Survey Corps in 1939 and it was there that he met Guy and Arthur Boyd, the latter to become his brother-in-law.

Perceval also became friends with Sidney Nolan and Albert Tucker and exhibited at and was influenced by the Contemporary Art Society in Melbourne.  Arthur Boyd, John Perceval and a university friend, Peter Herbst founded the Murrumbeena Pottery in 1944 and from that date until well into the 1950’s his time was mostly taken up with ceramics.

Perceval started painting again seriously in 1956 and painted in the U.K. and Europe from 1962-1965.


Contemporary Art Society, Melbourne 1942, 1943, 1944 and 1954; First one-man show at Melbourne Book Club 1948; National Gallery of Victoria 1956, 1959, 1962 and 1963; Australian Galleries, Melbourne 1956, 1960, 1961 & 1969; David Jones’ Gallery, Sydney 1957; Museum of Modern Art, Melbourne 1958, 1959, 1961 & 1962; V.A.S. Gallery, Melbourne 1959; Johnstone Gallery, Brisbane 1960; Whitechapel Gallery, London 1961; Kym Bonython, Adelaide 1961 and 1963; Tate Gallery, London 1963; Sao Paulo Biennale, Brazil 1963; Zwemmer Gallery, London 1964; National University, Canberra 1965 and 1966; Clune Galleries, Sydney 1966;  Mertz Collection, Washington DC USA 1967; Villiers Gallery, Sydney 1969; Holdsworth Gallery, Sydney 1973; South Yarra Gallery, Melbourne 1977; Portraits 1936-49, Australian Galleries, Melbourne 1980 & 1987; Heide Gallery, Melbourne 1984; Holland Gallery 1987; Peter Gant Gallery 1988;  Gould Gallery, Melbourne, Retrospective 1943-88, 1988 & 1989; Wagner Gallery, Sydney, Retrospective 1940-50; 1986-87, 1988; Hayward Gallery, London U.K., An Empty Space – Angry Penguins 1988.


McCaughey Prize 1958;  Vizard-Wholohan Prize 1959;  Wynne Prize (shared) 1960;  two-year Fellowship at Australian National University, Canberra 1965; Ceramic Mural, Homage to Laurence Hargrave, Monash University, Melbourne 1961-63.


National Gallery, Canberra; State Galleries of New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, Victoria, Western Australia; Australian National University, Canberra; Monash University, Victoria; University of Melbourne; University of Western Australia; Melbourne State College; Toronto Art Gallery, Canada and many private collections around Australia and overseas.


John Perceval, Margaret Plant, Lansdowne 1971; Encyclopedia of Australian Art, McCulloch, Hutchinson 1977;  Australian Painting 1788-1970, Bernard smith, Oxford University Press 1974;  Australian Painters 1964-66 (Mertz Collection), Griffin Press, Adelaide 1966;  A Study of Australian Art, Herbert E. Badham, Currawong Press, Sydney 1969; Modern Painters 1931-1970, James Gleeson, Lansdowne 1971; Australian Painters of the 70’s, Mervyn Horton, Ure Smith 1976;  Australian Sculptors, Ken Scarlett, Nelson 1980, The Encyclopedia of Australian Art, Alan & Susan McCulloch.