Strong colonial presentation at Menzies auction

Author: Richard Brewster | Posted: 20th June, 2016

Eugene von Guerard’s View of Hobart Town, with Mount Wellington in the Background is the centrepiece of a strong presentation of early and colonial works at Menzies forthcoming Sydney auction of Australian & International Fine Art & Sculpture from 6.30pm Thursday June 23.

Menzies head of Australian art Tim Abdallah believes the work, painted in 1856, is clearly a museum quality magnum opus, which the auction house expects to sell for more than $1.25 million. 

“The painting contains an enormous amount of historical information, as well as being serenely beautiful,” he said.

Other colonial works in the auction, which will be held at Menzies Gallery 12 Todman Avenue Kensington, include two Louis Buvelot paintings – Towards Melbourne 1867 and River Landscape 1882.

Arthur Streeton is represented through two oil paintings – one an important previously unrecorded work from the ‘9x5’ era, Autumn Day 1891, and a jewel-like scene of Venice painted at the height of his career, Rialto 1927.

An important portrait of Tom Roberts’ son Caleb joins Henry Burn’s Ferry on the Yarra at Studley Park c1870s and Henry Gritten’s Jackson’s Creek, Sunbury 1866 as other early works to consider – while Frederick McCubbin’s Grazing Cows and Bertram Mackennel’s important group of five bronzes rounds out the pre-modern Australian art collection.

Another significant bronze is Auguste Rodin’s life-size bronze La Femme Accroupie, Grand Modèle avec une Terrasse Plus Haute, modelled by the sculptor as part of his Gates of Hell exhibition in 1881-2. 

The bronze is part of Menzies ongoing program to offer high quality international works and the auction house believes favourable exchange rates should prompt Rodin collectors worldwide to seriously consider the sculpture.

A couple of relatively obscure Brett Whiteley paintings from the late 1950s showing the young artist’s precocious skills – From Circular Quay and Watson’s Bay – are each valued at more than  $20,000 and are a timely reminder of the strength of the market for his works.

Works by other modern artists – such as Sidney Nolan’s Kelly 1964, John Brack’s Finale 1973 and John Olsen’s Childhood by the Sea, Popping Blue Bottles 2010 – once again are in strong demand and carry big estimates in this sale.

Almost one third of the 236-lot auction comprises a collection of emerging, mid-career and senior contemporary artists sourced and purchased over the past decade on behalf of a collecting group by Niagara Galleries’ owner Bill Nuttall.

Many of the artists – including Del Kathryn Barton, Rick Amor, Daniel Boyd and Brook Andrew – are saleroom regulars, whereas others have established careers at well-known galleries but have either never before been seen on the secondary market or only had minimal exposure.

These include novices Tim Sterling, Michael Cook, Mark Rodda and Emily Ferretti, and Brad Westmoreland, Sally Ross and Fergus Binns – providing an excellent opportunity for budget conscious collectors to acquire works at the start of an artist’s career.


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