Auction reveals Hungarian refugees love of Australian art

Author: Richard Brewster | Posted: 2nd September, 2016

Fred and Anna Maria Agar originally met in 1961 in New York while she was visiting on holiday and fell madly in love.

So strong was the connection between the two former Hungarian refugees that Fred not only proposed but, by the end of the year, moved to Melbourne so they could marry.

Anna came to Australia in 1950 as a child and grew up travelling with her parents throughout regional Victoria and New South Wales visiting rabbiters for the family’s pet food business.

It was during this time she developed powerful childhood memories of the Australian landscape and for those people who eked out a living in such remote areas.

As a result she developed a strong affinity for the artworks of Hugh Sawrey – a passion she was quick to share with her new husband.

Over many years, they collected several of Sawrey’s works and would catch up with the artist from time to time through their mutual friend, dealer John Cooper.

The couple also met South Australian artist Ainslie Roberts in a similar fashion and collected his sometimes jarring but distinctively captivating works.

Their collection is among paintings to be auctioned as part of Leonard Joel’s Fine Art sale from 6.30pm Tuesday September 6 at 333 Malvern Road, South Yarra.

The auction features a private collection of contemporary art featuring such artists as Jan Nelson – Walking Tall in Grass (Viktor) 2005 – and Patricia Piccinini – Cyclepups: Firestarter 2005.

Other artists in this collection include Colin Christian – Sodaris Head 2007 – and Tommy Watson – Kapi Pitjanu 2005.

There are also many works by many well-known artists from which auction goers can choose.

These include Arthur Boyd’s Shoalhaven Landscape, which carries the highest auction estimate of $70,000-$90,000, Tim Storrier’s The Australian Studio 1979, John Milne’s High Corrie, Arran, Jean-Baptiste Guillaumin’s Paysage de l’Ile de France c1885, David Larwill’s Beast Master No.2 and Howard Arkley’s The Stapelia Peduncle (aka Neocummgii) 1986.

Leonard Joel has introduced a new look catalogue with this auction concentrating on lush full-page visuals of lots (not presented in chronological order) that highlight the contemporary art in the sale. 

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