McCubbin painting to wow auction goers

Author: Richard Brewster | Posted: 23rd October, 2014

Never seen at auction, Frederick McCubbin’s museum quality painting Mrs McCubbin Picking Blossom (Spring) is a major highlight of Mossgreen’s forthcoming auction entitled Fine Australian & International Art.

The painting is a sensitive, luminous portrait of the artist’s wife Annie – probably in the orchard surrounding their Hawthorn, Melbourne home.

Painted in 1890 at a defining moment in Australian art history, the work stands alongside others of national significance such as Arthur Streeton’s Still Glides the Stream, Tom Roberts’ Shearing the Rams, Charles Conder’s The Yarra Heidelberg and McCubbin’s A Bush Burial.

These artists were all part of the Heidelberg School and, at the time, visionary in their realistic depiction of the Australian landscape.

Mossgreen’s head of Australian and international art Jon Dwyer said Mrs McCubbin Picking Blossom (Spring) was considered to be one of the finest McCubbin paintings still in private hands.

“Estimated at $1.2 million to $1.6 million, it offers the collector a rare opportunity to own a genuine piece of Australian history,” he said.

The auction, from 6.30pm Tuesday October 28 at 926-930 High Street Armadale, features part one of the collection of prominent economist, academic, author and philanthropist the late Alan Boxer.

Included in his collection are works by Australian modernists such as Sidney Nolan, Charles Blackman, Arthur Boyd, Albert Tucker, Fred Williams, John Olsen and Brett Whiteley.

Elected a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in 1975, Boxer’s economic works were widely recognised by his peers, and, as a Reader in Economics at the University of Melbourne, he worked with some of the leading economists of the day.

Born in Hong Kong in 1927, Boxer started collecting art in the 1950s while living in Oxford – where he made his first purchase, a set of prints by English artist William Hogarth (1697-1764).

Upon his return to Australia in the early 1960s, he began collecting art more systematically, his first noteworthy purchase being Albert Tucker’s significant Gamblers and Parrots 1960.

Boxer had a strong personal and emotional attachment to the works in his collection – a prime reason for his generous bequest earlier this year to the National Gallery of Australia.

A major auction painting in Boxer’s collection is Brett Whiteley’s Rita Nelson 1964-65, a fine example of the artist’s seminal London period.

Heavily influenced by his artist friend Francis Bacon, Whiteley inscribed the painting ‘Francis Bacon’ mid-right.

The work was part of an exhibition at London’s Marlborough Gallery that turned Whiteley into an overnight sensation and internationally recognised artist.

Another significant painting is Fred William’s Trees and Rocks II 1963 – painted in a period often referred to as ‘quintessential Williams’.

Others include John Olsen’s 1961 Portrait Landscape and Arthur Boyd’s Daniel in the Lion’s Den.

Other auction highlights include one of the largest oils by Ray Crooke to appear recently at auction – Village  (Honolulu Village).

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