Long lost Streeton painting among auction treasures

Author: Richard Brewster | Posted: 21st November, 2016

Arthur Streeton’s And the Sunlight Clasps the Earth 1895 has been recently re-discovered after being hidden from public view in a Tasmanian private collection for almost a century and will be auctioned by Sotheby’s Australia as part of its Important Australian Art auction from 6.30pm Wednesday November 23 at the InterContinental Sydney, 117 Macquarie Street, Sydney.

The work is a significant painting from Streeton’s most revered series of Australian impressionist subjects.

After 120 years, the rediscovery of this picture reaffirms Streeton’s command of the brush, which through his eye and hand extoll the poetic nature of Australia’s landscape, according to Sotheby’s Australia chairman Geoffrey Smith.

Smith believes Charles Blackman’s The Game of Chess 1956 (with a catalogue estimate of $1 million to $1.2 million) will achieve a new world auction record for the artist – previously set in 2006 by the same auction house.

“The paintings of Blackman’s 1956-57 Alice in Wonderland series are among the most beloved and admired in 20th century Australian art,” he said.

“In The Game of Chess, Blackman blends highly personal and universal iconography and creates an image that is simultaneously literal, poetic and illusory.”

Another painting bound to interest collectors is Jeffrey Smart’s The Two-Up Game (Portrait of Ermes de Zan) 2006 (estimate $500,000-$700,000) consigned by TarraWarra Museum of Art, which is reluctant to sell the work but is keen to establish a fund for the future acquisition of modern and contemporary Australian art.

Significant award winning Australian landscape paintings figure prominently in the auction.

Two fine examples are William Dobell’s Storm Approaching, Wangi 1948 and Sali Herman’s The Red House 1965.    

Both were awarded the Art Gallery of New South Wales Wynne Prize for the best Australian landscape painting.

One of Herbert Badham’s largest oil paintings Botanical Gardens Sydney circa 1936 is another auction attraction, revealing the artist’s interest in colour and form.

The painting’s reverse side has revealed a great mystery – the portrait of an unknown woman seated in front of Sydney Harbour about 1942, painted while he lived in Neutral Bay during World War II.  

Fred Williams’ Turnip Diggers 1968, acquired in 1972 by the present owner and auctioned for the first time, should bring plenty of interest.

The painting follows Williams’ return to Australia after nine months overseas on a Helena Rubenstein Travelling Scholarship and the beginning of his ability to support himself through full-time painting.

His return was marked with a remarkable burst of creativity, generating the second you Yang series, the Lysterfield and Upwey landscapes, the generic Hilllsides and finally the ‘Australian Landscapes’ of which the Turnip Diggers is one example.         


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