Menzies predicts another good art auction result

Author: Richard Brewster | Posted: 13th March, 2014

Menzies Art Brands was so enamoured with the results of its October auction last year (when it set a new artist auction record of almost $4 million for Brett Whiteley’s The Armchair) that it is predicting a very positive outcome for its first 2014 sale – from 6.30pm Thursday at 1 Darling Street, South Yarra.

Art specialist Tim Abdallah believes when records are set (particularly for Brett Whiteley paintings) confidence is returning to the market.

“This time we have several good paintings including Sidney Nolan’s Untitled (Mrs Reardon and Child) 1946, which was painted the same year as his First Class Marksman that in March 2010 fetched an Australian auction record of $5.4 million (again courtesy of Menzies Art Brands) when sold to the Art Gallery of NSW,” he said.

While this painting carries a much lower catalogue estimate of $400,000 to $600,000, Mr Abdallah regards Nolan as the most important Australian artist since World War II and believes many of his contemporaries took their lead from him during the formative period of Australian modernism.

Nolan’s turbulent personal life at the time is seen as attributing to his success as an artist. He had separated from his wife and became part of the Heide Circle, established by artists John and Sunday Reed (one of Australia’s richest men William Baillieu’s niece) on a former dairy farm at Bulleen, which after their deaths in 1981 became known as the Heide Museum of Modern Art.

Under Sunday Reed’s encouragement, Nolan’s painting flourished and it was during this period that he painted his 27 most famous Ned Kelly pictures.

Tim Abdallah says the painting in Thursday’s auction shows links to the Kelly works and is perhaps the most important Nolan to come onto the market since First Class Marksman.

Another artist of note is Jeffrey Smart, whose painting Level Crossing 1997 occupies the catalogue’s front cover – while The Dome 1977 is a further example of his fine works to feature in the auction.

This example of The Dome is one of two or three versions in private hands – the most substantial of which is on show at Tarrawarra Winery in the Yarra Valley.

Tim Storrier’s Reflected Fireline 1999 (335 centimetres long) is a showstopper and was featured in his most recent Sydney retrospective while, for those who want a complete change of subject matter, The Tree at the End of the Garden 1991, is another fine example of his ability.

The catalogue’s back cover features Still life – Interior with Jug and Vase of Flowers by Bessie Davidson, who was born in Australia in 1879 but lived most of her life in Europe.

During World War I, she was a member of the Red Cross and part of the French underground during World War II.

Davidson took her lead from post Impressionist painters like Cézanne, whose influence can be seen in what is for her a rather large work and part of an Adelaide private collection.

The auction also contains several Fred Williams etchings – ideal for collectors with small budgets.

Viewing at Stonington Mansion 336 Glenferrie Road, Malvern.


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