Old Sydney Harbour in all its auction glory
Author: Richard Brewster | Posted: 6th December, 2021
A rare 1856 colonial oil painting of Sydney Harbour featuring the former penal settlement at Cockatoo Island is one of the important highlights Fine Arts Auctions online sale from 11am Sunday December 12 at 239 Wickham Road, Moorabbin.
The auction, which mainly contains items from a Lysterfield mansion and Moorabbin estate, can only be viewed online because sale items are being held in separate locations – but condition reports and more photos are available on request. Bidding also is online, over the phone or via absentee bids.
One of the largest paintings Australian artist Ray Crooke (1922-2015) ever painted, and claimed by auctioneer Phil Caldwell to be one of his best, entitled Morning Chores is another strong attraction.
Known for his landscapes and serene views of Islander people and oceans, in 1969 Crooke won the prestigious Archibald Prize for his portrait of novelist George Johnston. Many of his works are in Australian and overseas galleries and the University of Queensland owns three of his portraits.
Other works are by artists such as Hugh Sawrey, James Alfred Turner, Pro Hart, David Boyd (four superb oils), Sidney Nolan, Hans Heysen, Norman Lindsay, Leonard Long and Donald Friend.
There are two porcelain vases of particular note in the auction. One by George Owen, known for his ability to create delicate pieces full of air holes, has a $25,000-$50,000 estimate and Caldwell expects it could bring a much higher price given its exquisite exhibition quality.
The other is one of the largest Royal Worcester vases by artist Harry Davis (53 centimetres high) hand painted with a flock of sheep and shepherd – unusual for the artist because he normally only features two or three in his works.
Caldwell claims these are the sorts of vases only ever purchased by hardcore collectors and investors, but is now noticing more buyers in their 40s and 50s at auctions as they develop an interest in antiques and fine and decorative arts.
One of the auction highlights is a 1918 Robert Prenzel bust of an Aboriginal woman smoking a pipe.
From the Lysterfield mansion comes several large urns, bronze cherub jardineres and fountains – along with a beautiful burr walnut salon cabinet, 19th century floor bookcase and 12-seat mahogany dining table and chairs.
There also is an interesting Australian cedar squatters desk with drawers and a bureau plat by 19th century French maker Sormani that resided originally at Cartiers in Paris.
Other attractions include diamond, citrine and aquamarine rings and pendants and 1960s vintage watches.