Archibald winner honoured with auction catalogue cover

Author: Richard Brewster | Posted: 25th June, 2021

Menzies is honouring former Archibald prize winner Ben Quilty with its catalogue cover for his work Skull 3 2006 (lot 22) in their Wednesday June 30 Melbourne auction following the artist’s record-breaking success in its March sale for Beast 2 which sold for $220,000.

The auction, from 6.30pm at Menzies Gallery 1 Darling Street South Yarra, will feature a comprehensive range of Australian and international paintings and sculptures.

According to curator Lisa Slade writing in the Menzies catalogue ‘In Quilty’s hands, the car becomes a symbol of mortality, mateship and masculinity, a vanitas motif or reminder of the transience of life’.

There are another three Quilty works in the auction including one of the three editions (plus one artist’s proof) of his poignant bronze sculpture Cook after Baghdad 2012 (lot 49). 

The artwork with the highest estimate is Sidney Nolan’s (1917-1992) Kelly 1964 at $500,000-$700,000 (lot 28) from Nolan’s third series on the infamous Australian outlaw.

The artist’s obsessive preoccupation with the 19th century bushranger myth he described as a “millstone around his neck” and over 35 years he believed the image of Kelly became the touchstone of his progression as a painter.

This particular painting is filled with energy and movement as a trooper flees on horseback from an armed and fearsome Ned Kelly, his iconic square helmet dominating the composition.

Tom Roberts (1856-1931) Portrait of C.S. Paterson 1888 (lot 34) is historically significant because it depicts Melbourne’s leading art director of the 1870s and 80s, Charles Stewart Paterson (1834-1917), whose firm on the city’s finest buildings including Government House and The Melbourne Town Hall.

The portrait has been in the Paterson family since it was painted and appears on the auction market for the first time in history.

It was honoured in the 1888-89 Centennial International Exhibition at the Royal Exhibition Building with a 2nd Order of Merit and has been described by art historian Virginia Spate as one of Roberts best academic portraits.

Iconic street artist Banksy, who recently has attracted plenty of interest both in Australia and overseas with record breaking prices for his works, adds a strong international flavour to the auction with two screenprints Donuts (Chocolate) 2009 (lot 23) and Very Little Helps 2008 (lot 24).

Both are expected to achieve strong results and carry respective estimates of $100,000-$150,000 and $90,000-$120,000.

Still life artist Margaret Preston (1875-1963) is prominent with a hand coloured woodcut Flowers in Jug c1929 (lot 1) and an exemplary oil Banksia 1955 (lot 32).

She is joined by two fellow still life exponents and important female artists Constance Stokes (1906-1991) Marguerites and Cornflowers 1930 (lot 2) and Margaret Olley (1923-2011) Branch of Lemons 1981-82 (lot 3).

Aboriginal artist Lin Onus (1948-1996) makes an appearance with Moonlight (from the Twenty Four Hours at Numerili suite) 1993 (lot 26) and Jeffrey Smart’s (1921-2013) Study for Outside the Ministry 1970 (lot 20) is a precursor to the larger painting of similar name, Outside the Ministry, that Menzies sold in 2018.

Another highlight is Ray Crooke’s (1922-2015) commanding diptych The Concert, Waya (lot 29) which at a width of 243 centimetres will be the second largest painting to be offered by the artist at auction.

Melbourne viewing is 11am-6pm Saturday June 26, 1pm-6pm Sunday June 27 and 11am-6pm Monday June 28 and Tuesday June 29.

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