Australian auctioneer doyen collection to go under the hammer

Author: Richard Brewster | Posted: 14th July, 2020

The name Joel is synonymous with Australia’s antique and arts auction industry.

In 1919, Leonard Joel opened his doors in Melbourne’s CBD and son Graham, who was no less of an enthusiast, became a recognised doyen of the auction industry – regarded by many as the driving force behind Australia’s art market boom of the 1970s and 1980s.

Joining the family business in 1944 at the tender age of 16, over 40 years Graham became a well-respected expert in all aspects of the auction market with a unique ability to value anything from an 18th century cup and saucer to an Australian Impressionist masterpiece.

His advice to new buyers was to “buy what you like” and he followed his own mantra in building a collection of more than 200 pieces that will be auctioned from 12pm Sunday July 19 by Gibson’s Auctions at 885-889 High Street, Armadale.

With Stage 3 restrictions again in force in Melbourne because of the coronavirus pandemic, the auction will be held in an empty room with absentee, telephone and online bidding and viewing only by appointment from Wednesday July 15 to Saturday July 18.   

The Graham Joel collection can only be described as eclectic, beginning with a range of antique sterling silver and including glassware, porcelain, paintings, sculptures, furniture and other collectables.

Lot 2 – a pair of 1819 George III sauce boats in the Adam style – is typical of the sterling silver offerings which include a George II London tankard (lot 6) and a George III Scottish tea service (lot 1).

French glass artist Emile Galle (1846-1904) – one of the major innovators of the French art nouveau movement and founder of the Nancy School – is represented with two circa 1900 cameo glass vases (lots 43 and 44), along with several versions from the likes of Thomas Webb & Sons from around the same period.

Porcelain was another of Graham’s favourites with a pair of 19th century French Sevres style bronze mounted vases (lot 71) among the more appealing items.

A circa 1790 Worcester Barr Flight & Barr vase (lot 81) is another porcelain item worthy of examination, particularly for those collectors who might be just starting their collections.

Within his art collection, Graham seemed to be particularly fond of Ethel Carrick Fox (1872-1952) paintings and The Garden Terrace (lot 121) is a good example. Another is Walter Withers (1854-1914) Girl Outside a Slab Hut, 1900 (lot 156) and Frederick Leist’s (1878-1945) The Floral Hat (lot 159).

Unusual is the Japanese Meiji period (1868-1912) Shibayama inlaid plate (lot 178), while a 19th century colourful Battersea enamel box (lot 198) is bound to appeal to collectors.

A late 19th century Viennese enamel and gilt metal sweetmeat dish (lot 215) is another interesting collectable while amongst the more appealing furniture is an Edwardian marquetry inlaid satinwood display cabinet (lot 225) and a George IV cross banded and ebonised fruitwood and rosewood work table (lot 227).

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