Namatjira leads Australian artist greats at South Australian auction

Author: Richard Brewster | Posted: 28th November, 2022

With three spectacular watercolours by Hermannsburg School Aboriginal artist Albert Namatjira (1902-1959) to help entice buyers to its Important Australian and European Paintings Sunday December 4 sale, South Australian-based Elder Fine Art also has plenty of other works by big name Australian artists to satisfy the current booming interest in art by both first-time purchasers and established collectors.

A pioneer of contemporary indigenous Australian art, Namatjira is recognised as one of the country’s greatest artists – being the first Aboriginal to become popular with a wide Australian audience.

A member of the Western Arrernte people, he was born and raised at the remote Hermannsburg Lutheran Mission 126 kilometres southwest of Alice Springs in the Northern Territory.

Western teacher Rex Battarbee heavily influenced his art and Namatjira’s watercolour works were a significant departure from the abstract designs and symbols of traditional Aboriginal painters – and these days there is mounting interest in his paintings as they become extremely hard to find.

The auction begins at 1pm at 110 Melbourne Street, North Adelaide and the three Namatjira paintings, among the 140 lots on offer, will no doubt be hotly contested.

All reflect areas around the MacDonnell Ranges with Finke River Gums, Central Australia (lot 26) typical of Namatjira’s genre.

Also eye-catching is Ghost Gums, Jay Creek, MacDonnell Ranges (lot 27) and Morning, James Range (lot 28).

Collectors will recognise many of the artist names in the auction as icons of the Australian industry including Sidney Nolan, Hugh Sawrey, Pro Hart, Brett Whiteley, Robert Dickerson, Lloyd Rees, Sir Hans Heysen, Nora Heysen and Horace Trenerry.

The Norman Feather Collection is another auction highlight and includes three important Lloyd Rees (1895-1988) watercolours, including two rare paintings of San Gimignano, Tuscany entitled Tuscany, Landscape – Sunset Gimignano I (lot 5) and Tuscany, Landscape – Sunset San Gimignano II (lot 6), and Morning Impression – North Down Tasmania (lot 10).

The collection also features paintings by Mac Betts (1932-2010) Trees the Colour of Telecom Vans (lot 7) and Robert Juniper (1929-2012) River Landscape (lot 8) – along with works by Hugo Shaw, Franz Kempf and Geoff Wilson.

Other works of interest include Pro Hart’s (1928-2006) Cribtime Underground (lot 12) – one of an important collection of his paintings – Nora Heysen’s (1911-2003) Plums (lot 20) and Still Life (lot 21) and Andrew Baines Health introspection is a Rare Ability (lot 53).

The auction also features Guy Boyd bronzes, a rare collection of Jo Sweatman early oil paintings, John Olsen and Alexander Leckie ceramics and Sir Ivor Hele conte drawings and charcoals.

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