Mixed reactions to Melbourne online art auction

While Melbourne’s lengthy Stage 4 lockdown response to the coronavirus pandemic has taken a severe toll on business and residents alike, online decorative arts and art auctions have performed better than expected for many auction houses.

Gibson’s Auctions Australian & International Art auction on October 25 prompted mixed reactions from buyers with 56 per cent of the 224 paintings selling – some above catalogue estimates – and many well-known artists ignored.

As director Jenny Gibson observed, the auction offered established collectors and first time buyers many wonderful opportunities to acquire highly desirable artworks from some of Australia’s iconic and internationally renowned and respected artists.

One of Australia’s leading landscape artists Tom Roberts (1856-1931) work A Landscape in Dorset 1921 (lot 96) brought the equal top price of $26,840 (including buyer’s premium) with Ivor Hele’s (1912-1993) The Farrier 1974 (lot 146).

And once more Aboriginal artist Albert Namatjira (1902-1959) – a founder of the Hermannsburg School in central Australia – proved popular with collectors when his painting entitled Central Australia (lot 75) changed hands for $24,400.

Ethel Spowers (1890-1947) is another favourite with her painting The Kite Flyers 1927 (lot 10) bringing $17,080 on a $6000-$8000 estimate.

Anything to do with Rupert Bunny (1864-1927) always attracts a great deal of interest and so it was with the School of Rupert Bunny’s Bather and Swan circa 1908 (lot 163) which sold for $12,200 on a $3000-$5000 estimate.

Lloyd Rees (1895-1988) is another well respected artist and it was no surprise that his The Creek at Gerringong 1972 (lot 95) sold for an upper estimate range figure of $11,590 once the buyer’s premium was added.

However, the real turn up for the books was lot 111 – Australian School Figures – with a $500-$800 estimate that changed hands for $10,370, a massive 13 times the upper catalogue figure.

Other top 10 results included Marion Borgelt Liquid Light 29 Degrees 2004 (lot 216 - $5124), Thomas Miles Richardson (English 1784-1848) Classical Landscape with Figures Northumberland Castle 1834 (lot 81 - $4270) and Arthur Merric Bloomfield Boyd (1920-1999) Tomorrow’s Ghosts (lot 125 - $4148).

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