Auction buyers get second go at legendary Australian art collection

Author: Richard Brewster | Posted: 4th August, 2022

The Australian art collection, engineered on behalf of superannuation giant Cbus by legendary artworld figure the late Dr Joseph Brown (1918-2009), continues to entice auction goers in the first of three timed online August auctions from 7pm Tuesday August 9 at 105 Commercial Road, South Yarra.

The first sale on July 27 featured 100 “highlight” paintings that realised more than $9 million.

This August 9 auction is expected to result in a much lower but still healthy more than an $800,000 return from the 71 paintings on offer.

The Cbus collection came into being over a 15-year period from 1992 to 2007 after Dr Brown and fellow art enthusiast the late Professor Bernard Smith (1916-2011) realised that important Australian artworks were significantly undervalued and being snapped up by overseas buyers.

To prevent further erosion of the local industry, Dr Brown and Professor Smith convinced Cbus that preservation of Australia’s art heritage was a worthy long-term investment.

The Part II sale features modern and contemporary paintings that undoubtedly will appeal to both investors and first time collectors right from lot 1 – Fred Williams (1927-1982) Sherbrooke Forest, c1960.

Arthur Boyd’s (1920-1999) Doris with Red Hair, c1968 (lot 2) is another worthwhile pickup with a catalogue estimate of $55,000-$75,000, while Charles Blackman’s (1928-2018) The Last Train, c1972 (lot 3) is certainly worth close examination.

Roger Kemp (1908-1987) is another very collectable artist and his Movement III, 1981 (lot 5) is no exception.

Likewise leading abstract artist John Firth-Smith’s paintings appeal to many and Waves #1, 1987 (lot 11) should not be any different.

Jon Cattapan’s The Interruption, 1990-92 (lot 16) is a colourful work from a visual artist best known for his abstract cityscape oil paintings.

Highly successful Australian artist Tim Maguire – who since 2006 has worked in the United Kingdom – exhibits large scale paintings noted for their photo-realist imagery and in this auction has works entitled Orange Colum, 1987 (lot 18) and Mandarin and Cherries, 1996 (lot 19).

Lesser known is Kevin Lincoln, an artist born in 1941 in Hobart who in the 1960s moved to Melbourne where he has lived and worked ever since.

An introvert by nature, Lincoln is admired for his still lifes, self-portraits and etchings all of which embody a sense of restraint and austerity – and Still Life/Black Pipe, 1989 (lot 20) is typical of his work.

Robert Clinch is known for his opalescent and egg-tempera paintings and hand drawn lithographs that reveal a seemingly realistic but fictional world.

They are timeless images that from which viewers can gain a sense of loneliness, joy, humour and melancholy and lot 28 – Twenty Four Variations on a Theme by Paganini, 1991 – is a particularly strong example.

The same age as Kevin Lincoln, Lesley Dumbrell is known for her precise abstract geometric paintings and during the 1970s was a pioneer of the Australian Women’s Art Movement.

One of her designs adorns a Melbourne tram and in this auction her work Soomerki, 1989 (lot 30) is well worth considering.

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