A buoyant art market delivers strong results at Sydney auction

Australian secondary art market prices continue to remain buoyant judging by Deutscher and Hackett’s Sydney auction results on May 4.

The top 10 paintings all sold either well above or well within their catalogue estimate range as the sale realised more than $7.3 million – 80 per cent by volume and 130 per cent by value – and more than 650 bidders battled it out either in the room, on the phone or on the internet.

Number one billing went to globally recognised New Zealand artist Rita Angus (1908-1970), one of her country’s most important 20th century painters, for her work Hawke’s Bay Landscape, c1955 (lot 10), which changed hands for $828,409 including buyer’s premium (hammer $675,000) – eclipsing her previous hammer price of $540,000 set in 2018 for a similar Hawke’s Bay landscape.

John Brack’s (1920-1999) Knives and Forks, 1958 (lot 9) carried the highest catalogue estimate of $400,000-$600,000 before the auction and sold just above this range - $748,636 including BP, continuing his ongoing popularity.

Out of the Purple Mountain, 1928 (lot 17) placed Arthur Streeton (1867-1943) third with a $552,273 buyer cost – more than twice its high estimate – while William Robinson’s Sunshowers and Flood Gums, 1993 (lot 35) followed closely behind on $540,000.

La Robe Bleue, 1911 (lot 15) was a respectable result for Bessie Davidson (1879-1965) reaching its low estimate of $300,000 ($368,182 including BP) and Fred Williams’ (1927-1982) Lysterfield Paddock No. 1, 1973 (lot 25) finished within its estimate range, selling for $319,091.

Not surprisingly, Tom Roberts’ (1856-1931) often exhibited Portrait of Florence Greaves, 1898 (lot 13) was well above its $60,000-$80,000 estimate, with the lucky buyer paying $270,000 for ownership privileges.

Another of Robinson’s works, Late Afternoon with Flowering Palms, 2007 (lot 46) boosted sales with its $233,182 return on a $70,000-$90,000 estimate, while Rosalie Gascoigne (1917-1999) also figured with Summer Stack, 1990 (lot 30) which changed hands for $233,182.

Rounding out the top 10 was Yvonne Audette’s The Jugglers, 1967 (lot 28) which sold for $184,091.

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