Jeffrey Smart painting to set auction scene alight

Author: Richard Brewster | Posted: 10th November, 2016

Jeffrey Smart’s Dividing Line, Study 1 from 1978-9 leads the auction charge at Mossgreen’s final multi-vendor Australian and International Art sale for 2016 from 6.30pm Monday November 21 at 36-40 Queen Street, Woollahra in Sydney.

This domestic sized work is as striking as it is memorable, according to Mossgreen’s chief executive officer Paul Sumner.

“Painted at the height of Smart’s powers, this is a near identical study for the image chosen to decorate the first edition of his memoir, ‘Not Quite Straight’”, he says in the auction catalogue introduction.

“Hidden in the one collection since its purchase in 1979, the re-emergence of this quintessential Smart will be met with great excitement.”

Dividing Line, Study 1 was included in Smart’s 1978 major exhibition at Australian Galleries and hung alongside several of his other striking and now celebrated paintings.

 The 189 auction works will have their first viewing in Melbourne at Mossgreen headquarters 926-930 High Street, Armadale from Friday November 11 to Sunday November 13 before being shipped to its Sydney office for the sale.

Another major auction feature is the lyrically commanding work by urban indigenous artist Lin Onus entitled 24 Hours by the Numerili Moonlight, 1993.

“The work is an outstanding example of the artist’s technical capacity, fusing a western visual system with indigenous spiritual meaning,” Sumner says.

Other auction highlights are the 19 Australian and international paintings, photographs, prints and textiles from the collection of Sydney’s Eric and Jacquie Selwood.

For more than 40 years, the couple have individually and collectively purchased works of art during which time they travelled extensively and spent considerable periods in Milan, Hong Kong and Auckland.

Jacquie has been predominantly interested in photography and international art, while Eric has concentrated mainly on 20th century Australian art.

The collection includes several excellent early paintings by Sidney Nolan, Fred Williams, Brett Whiteley and the late William Delafield Cook.

Whiteley is represented by Drawing a Man Drinking (Christie Series, 1965), Nolan by several works including Luna Park, 1945 – a seminal work recalling his childhood – and Williams by the earthy toned Hillside No. 5, 1964.

(A Sofa with Cushions on Top), 1969 – Delafield Cook’s charcoal on paper is a great example of the artist’s hyper-realistic skills even considering the medium.

Some of the more outstanding photographs in the collection include Max Dupain’s Sunbaker and David Moore’s Sisters of Charity.

Another collection highlight is Robert Indiana’s hand woven tapestry Classic Love shown at the Whitney Museum of Art in New York.

Of great interest to Melbourne buyers will undoubtedly be Ugo Catani’s painting Collins Street, Rainy Weather, 1887.

Recently rediscovered after 130 years in a private Melbourne collection, the work is an important addition to the artist’s oeuvre.

Catani was one of several European artists who briefly, yet comfortably, settled into the “marvellous Melbourne” scene of the 1880s.

Apparently, he was as prolific as he was popular – happily painting portraits, genre subjects, landscapes and miniatures.

Despite receiving favourable contemporary reviews, in 1894 Catani departed Australia, signalling a brusque neglect of this singular figure in Australian art history. 

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