Menzies auction in strong art market

Author: Richard Brewster | Posted: 6th September, 2019

As Menzies chief executive officer Justin Turner confidently predicts a continuing upward trend in Australia’s secondary art market – based on strong performances over the past 12 months – the auction house prepares itself for a Sydney sale on September 26 hoping to achieve more than $8 million in revenue if all goes well.

“The real estate market also appears to be turning and there are a lot more apartments for sale than there are good paintings (of which supply is finite),” he said.

Although there are no million dollar paintings in this auction – to be held from 6.30pm Thursday September 26 at Menzies Gallery 12 Todman Avenue, Kensington – there are several excellent examples of various leading Australian artists works.

“Three Charles Conder (1868-1909) works (lots 26 to 28) from the same (private Sydney) collection are good examples,” Mr Turner said.  

The first is The Spanish Shawl (Portrait of Annie Cecil Lawson) c1905, the second entitled The Verandah: Baroness A. de Meyer and Friends and the third Scaramouche c1900 – all showing colours, patterns and clothing that stimulated the artist’s imagination.

According to William Rothenstein, who drew attention to his understanding of Conder’s talent in Men and Memories 1900-1902, the artist was more adventurous than other painters.

“He was instinct with inventive powers and could put down a complicated composition with extraordinary ability, giving life and beauty to his figures,” he wrote.

“His sense of physical beauty of women, of the grace of their movements, of feminine radiance was unique – in his period at least.”

Mr Turner said Rick Amor’s The Waiter 1997 (lot 34) was one of only six he painted in the series – all keenly sought after.

This particular painting is regarded as an iconic work in the Amor’s long career, completed 30 years after he left the National Gallery art school with dreams of earning his living as an artist.

According to the Menzies catalogue, The Waiter sits alongside such works as his powerful sculpture The Relic and his efforts as Official War Artist in East Timor.

Albert Tucker’s (1914-1999) Intruder and Parrots 1965 (lot 33) – a signature work – graces the catalogues front cover and reflects his move to Melbourne’s outer urban bushland at Hurstbridge, after returning in 1960 following many years in London and France, where he encountered colourful parrots in the trees around his studio.  

Works by top artists Jeffrey Smart 1921-2013), Howard Arkley (1951-1999), Arthur Boyd (1920-1999) and Sidney Nolan (1917-1992) are all expected to exceed their healthy catalogue estimates.

Arkley is particularly popular at present and the painting Room with Pink Chair 1998 (lot 38) completed at a time when the artist was at the peak of his career and just prior to exhibitions Los Angeles and Venice.

Likewise, Nolan’s Kelly and Horse c1965 (lot 40) is from his third series on the subject and, at a catalogue estimate of $450,000-$550,000, highly collectable.

Like others in the 1964-65 series, the painting shows the famous Australian bushranger in anew and unexpected way, often, according to Nolan, “shorthand for my own emotional state”.

Arthur Boyd’s Bride and Bridegroom with Rainbow 1960 (lot 39) – from the Bride Series which brought considerable fame – was painted in London and shows the human drama and odd union of the couple typical of these works.

Jeffrey Smart’s Near Pisa 1995 (lot 37) is typical of his suburban landscape paintings and the many experiences he gained as an extremely well-travelled artist.


Viewing Melbourne:  11am-6pm Thursday September 12 to Sunday September 15

                                    Menzies Gallery 1 Darling Street, South Yarra


Viewing Sydney:          11am-6pm Thursday September 19 to Wednesday September 25

                                    Menzies Gallery 12 Todman Avenue, Kensington

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