Iconic art work hits auction scene

Author: Richard Brewster | Posted: 27th April, 2015

Two works – one of them a major painting entitled The Garden of the Graces – by famous 19th century water colourist Ebenezer Wake Cook (1843-1926) lead a strong art section at Christian McCann Auctions forthcoming sale from noon Sunday May 3 at 426 Burnley Street, Richmond.

The painting was inspired by Greek mythology The Three Graces (in Roman mythology Gratiae) – goddesses of such virtues as charm, beauty and creativity.

Famous artists over the centuries have depicted The Three Graces including Botticelli in the 15th century, Raphael (16th) Rubens (17th) and Antonio Canova in a 19th century neoclassical sculpture.

Cook was born at Maldon in Essex and came to Melbourne in 1852. At 17 years old, he became an assistant to Nicholas Chevalier who instructed him in painting, wood engraving and lithography.

One of the original members of the Victorian Academy of Arts in 1870, two years later he studied under Eugene von Guerard at the National Gallery of Victoria.

The following year Cook went to London and from 1875 to 1926 was a constant exhibitor at the Royal Academy.

In 1904, he published a pamphlet Anarchism in Art and Chaos in Criticism, followed in 1924 by Retrogression in Art and the Suicide of the Royal Academy – an attack on all un-academic painters from Manet onwards.

For a time, Cook was president of the Langham Sketch Club and an original member and honorary secretary of the Royal British-Colonial Society of Artists.

Cook is represented in the national galleries of Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide.

Other artists in the sale include William Longstaff, Oliver Claire, Garry Shead, Pro Hart and Mirka Mora.

The auction contains a superb range of antique French and English furniture including an important vitrine signed by Millett of Paris.

Other pieces include Boulle cabinets and tables, antique gilt mirrors and Veni Martin painted furniture.

Among the English furniture is George III mahogany, Regency and a reeded dining table attributed to furniture maker Gillows of Lancaster.

There is an outstanding collection of antique Chinese ivory including an exhibition pair of carved polychrome tusks, and Chinese antique porcelain, a pair of exhibition cinnabar lacquer vases, stone seals, gilt bronze Buddhas, jade carved pendants and hand painted Chinese scrolls.

Auction goers will be able to bid for rare antique English and continental porcelain including several ormolu mounted Sevres vases.

For wine buffs, there is a set of Grange Hermitage covering a 30-year period.


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