Australian market researchers auction their Australiana collection
Author: Richard Brewster | Posted: 1st December, 2021
Given their rich Australian heritage and enthusiasm for collecting Australiana, it is not surprising that the East Melbourne home of husband and wife team Gary and Genevieve Morgan - of Morgan Gallup Poll fame - is a living museum to Australian artworks, sculptures, pottery, wood carvings and furnishings.
Now, collectors worldwide will have the opportunity to obtain one or more items in this collection when Leski Auctions offers Part One for sale from 6.30pm Tuesday December 7 at The Gallery, Tonic House, 386 Flinders Lane, Melbourne.
Gary’s ancestors have been in Australia for 200 years. In 1853, his great-grandfather William H. Williams jointly published The Diggers’ Advocate, only 18 years after Melbourne founder John Batman visited the Port Phillip district.
Williams followed this up three years later with Language of the Aborigines of the Colony of Victoria and other Australian Districts and also published How to Settle in Victoria (1855), The News Letter of Australasia (1856) and The Collingwood and Richmond Observer (1857).
Gary’s father Roy, educated at Brighton and Melbourne Grammars, was elected in 1959 to the City of Melbourne Council and involved in the planning of the City Square.
During the 1940s, Roy established what was to become the best known market research company in Australia, the Morgan Gallup Poll – taken over in the 1960s by his son who continues to this day as its executive chairman.
Over the decades, Gary and Genevieve have lived in several Victorian-era homes, all of which have accommodated their ever-growing collection.
Several pieces have been loaned to various museums, libraries and other institutions so the public also could appreciate them – including in recent times the East Melbourne Public Library.
While the entire collection is noteworthy, lot 192 – a John William Lewin (1770-1819) circa 1812 watercolour entitled Ptilinopus Magnificus (Wompoo Pigeon) and a catalogue estimate of $50,000-$75,000 – will be of great interest to art lovers with a bent for historical works.
An impressive 19th century colonial sterling silver and emu centrepiece adorned with Aboriginal figures and attributed to Edward Fischer from Geelong (lot 176) is another strong attraction at $15,000-$20,000.
Australiana is at its peak with John Kendrick Blogg’s stunning 1924 signed and dated panel depicting a eucalyptus branch carved in high relief (lot 169) and listed at $40,000-$60,000.
Colonial furniture is well exhibited and early example Australian ribbon cedar sideboard (lot 111) from Sydney and an early cedar breakfast table made from a single butt cut (lot 106).
Renowned for his Aboriginal face carvings at his Mount Dandenong sanctuary, the late artist William Ricketts is represented through a pottery teapot made for the 1934 Melbourne Centennial Exhibition (lot 84).
One of artist Deborah Halpern’s most significant public works entitled “Angel”, commissioned for the 1988 Bicentennial celebrations (lot 105), also is on offer.
Originally adorning the National Gallery of Victoria moat, the full size statue now holds price of place on the Yarra River’s northern bank at Birrarung Marr.
Iconic potter Marguerite Mahood also has a say in the auction with several works including a circa 1936 mermaid statue on a wooden base entitled “Forsaken Mermaid” (lot 61).
Castle Harris pottery is represented with a dragon vase (lot 48) and Grace Seccombe with a pottery kookaburra statue (lot 43) and kangaroo tree stump vase (lot 46).
Lot 2 is a lovely Wilson & Ridges 19th century rare teapot.