One of Australia's great collections heads for auction

Author: Richard Brewster | Posted: 27th August, 2015

The late Peter Elliott probably could not have avoided becoming a collector – given that both his parents and grandparents were avid art followers who counted among their friends many of Australia’s established and emerging artists.

These friendships were only strengthened during the 1930s Great Depression as the Elliotts were quick to show their generosity, kindness and support to many a struggling artisan.

Born in 1927, Peter Elliott and his siblings were introduced and encouraged to converse with artists such as Norman Lindsay, Elioth Gruner, James R. Jackson and Lance Solomon – many of whose works feature in his extensive collection.

His father was a country doctor and, from an early age, Elliott often accompanied him on his rounds. One of those outings to a community on the Bellinger River sparked his fascination with local indigenous people and their traditions.

His curiosity and genuine interest in Aboriginal culture underpinned Elliott’s devotion towards Australian indigenous art, according to Mossgreen’s chief executive officer Paul Sumner.

Elliott’s collection is probably one of the most diverse ever handled by the auction house, which has been given the task of selling the works in Sydney – the first part of which begins at 6pm Sunday August 30 at the Museum of Contemporary Art 140 George Street, The Rocks.

The auction continues from 11am on Monday August 31 and from 10.30am Tuesday September 1 at Byron Kennedy Hall 122 Lang Road, Moore Park.

“Although his parents early influence sparked Peter Elliott’s lifelong passion for Australian art, his own collection grew and transformed into one that is truly personal and unique, spanning many mediums and many cultures,” Sumner says.

“His travels to Papua New Guinea and throughout South East Asia fuelled Peter’s interest in tribal arts and he developed a strong interest in Asian and Oceanic cultures, which led him to build extraordinary collections in these fields.”

At the core or Elliott’s collection are strong friendships with artists and gallery owners and a desire to support and promote new talent. Among his friends were such Australian artistic stalwarts as Fred Williams, Bill Robinson, John Olsen, Robert Dickerson and Russell Drysdale.

Viewing 10am-5pm Friday August 28 to Sunday August 30 at Byron Kennedy Hall. 

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