Colonial paintings resonate well with buyers

Eugene von Guerard’s View of Hobart Town, with Mount Wellington in the Background sold recently for $1,562,500 including buyer’s premium to an anonymous Melbourne buyer who is moving away from artists of the Modern era and taking a strong position in earlier Australian art.

The painting by Australia’s most important 19th century artist was the star attraction at Menzies June auction and represented almost 20 per cent of the $8,426,454 total sale price where 82 per cent of the paintings were sold by volume and 89 per cent by value.

Post-modern artists are now starting to resonate more with collectors and this year Menzies announced its intention of focussing on this new generation.

Rick Amor, Garry Shead, William Robinson and Tim Storrier are all prominent members and in the June auction strong to excellent results were achieved for their works.

Garry Shead’s A Royal Encounter sold for $156,000 (almost double its low estimate) as his Encounter with Royalty series of paintings rapidly eclipses his D.H. Lawrence series in price.

Both Shead’s paintings in the sale sold, along with all six (three each) of Storrier’s and Amor’s.

Cressida Campbell’s woodblock prints are prized by collectors and Bronte Interior was no exception – achieving a changeover price of $106,250, just $5000 shy of her all time auction record.

 In what is possibly a reflection of the fact that their works are becoming harder to obtain, John Brack and Brett Whiteley had comparatively quiet nights.

Despite this, Brack’s major piece Finale sold for $500,000 including buyer’s premium and all three of Whiteley’s relatively modest examples went under the hammer.

The well-known gallery owner Bill Nuttall’s curated Collector contemporary art works proved popular – the 72 lots including many pieces by artists who had never before been exposed to the secondary market.

These featured new names such as Daniel Boyd, David Keeling, Brad Westmoreland and Song Ling – all achieving new auction record prices, while more established artists like Amor, Euan Macleod, Susan Norrie, Brook Andrew and Sally Gabori sailed through their estimate ranges.

Heidelberg School icons Arthur Streeton and Tom Roberts also did well with the former’s modestly sized delightful jewel Rialto the most contested lot of the night.

Although bidding started in the low $30,000s, by the time the hammer finally fell the painting changed hands for $200,000 to the applause of the crowd. 

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