Melbourne art collectors to celebrate live auction viewing

Author: Richard Brewster | Posted: 30th October, 2020

Sydneysiders can get their last look at Deutscher and Hackett’s Twenty Classics of Australian Art auction items this weekend at 16 Goodhope Street, Paddington before the paintings head for their Melbourne viewing and auction.

For the southern city it is a big deal because, for the first time since Melbourne imposed its Stage 3 then Stage 4 COVID-19 lockdown in July, art lovers will be able to view the paintings live (Thursday November 5 to Wednesday November 11 at 105 Commercial Road, South Yarra) and not just on a computer screen.

However, the auction of the 63 lots from 7pm Wednesday November 11, featuring works by some of Australia’s all-time great artists, will still have to be held on online, with telephone and absentee bidding also available.

There is no shortage of collector and investor pieces to attract worldwide attention but perhaps the crowning work is Russell Drysdale’s (1912-1981) Going to the Pictures 1941 (lot 12).

One of the most important examples of modern Australian art to appear at auction in many years – and with a catalogue estimate of $2.5 million to $3.5 million – the painting was purchased journalist, author, writer and critic Clive Turnbull soon after the artist’s 1942 Macquarie Galleries, Sydney exhibition and held in the family ever since.

Turnbull was a highly respected writer who worked on the Argus newspaper before in 1932 joining the Melbourne Herald where 10 years later he was appointed art critic. So keen was his interest and knowledge of contemporary art that the newspaper’s chief Sir Keith Murdoch consulted Turnbull about his own art purchases.

Going to the Pictures is typical of Drysdale’s depiction of outback Australia at that time and, as one of his best paintings, was included in every major exhibition dedicated to his oeuvre since then, including the Art Gallery of New South Wales in 1960 and the National Gallery of Victoria in 1997.  

Another top work is Fred Williams (1927-1982) Hillside at Lysterfield II 1967 (lot 8) which, from the mid-1960s, was near his home and a regular destination for outdoor painting trips.

With its counterpart, Hillside at Lysterfield I, the painting highlights Williams’ observation of the changing seasons through variations of colour.

There are several works that should have no trouble attracting attention including Howard Arkley’s (1951-1999) Eastern Suburbs Pink Home 1991 (lot 4), featuring the artist’s singular fascination with the suburban home.

Confronting is Paul Quilty’s Paul’s Falcon 2008 (lot 2) – a powerful rendition of the muscle car the Ford Falcon XA GT coupe.  

Other works of note include Rosalie Gascoigne’s (1917-1999) Ledger 1992, Arthur Streeton’s (1867-1943) Blue Lagoon Fringed Round with Palaces c1908 (lot 10) and Ian Fairweather’s (1891-1974) Figure Group V 1968-69 (lot 7).

Jeffrey Smart (1921-2013) also features with The Traffic Island 2009 (lot 19) while a painting by Eugene von Guerard (1811-1901) painted in 1847 before he migrated to Australia entitled Die Berge von St Tenadio im Neapolitanischen (The Mountains of St Tenado in the Naples Region) (lot 9) is a splendid example of his work.

Unusual is January Seventh 1961 (lot 6) by one of Australia’s most important painters of the late 20th century Peter Upward (1932-1983) and belongs to a large group of works by the artist that he painted on the floor.

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