Philanthropist leaves his art collection to charity

Author: Richard Brewster | Posted: 24th August, 2017

A generous philanthropist and supporter of the arts, Australian media proprietor the late James Fairfax spent many years donating art works to major Australian institutions such as the Art Gallery of New South Wales and the National Gallery of Victoria.

In 1841, his grandfather John Fairfax founded the Sydney-based media empire known today as Fairfax Media.

James Fairfax, who died in January this year aged 83, used both his publishing business and extensive business travels to build an extensive and iconic art and decorative arts collection.

Deutscher and Hackett has been asked to auction that part of his art collection not already donated to public institutions from 7pm Wednesday August 30 at the National Arts School in Forbes Street, Sydney.

Over the following two days, Leonard Joel will auction Fairfax’s decorative arts collection at the same venue.

Proceeds from both auctions will benefit his foundation and the charities it supports including The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, The Children’s Medical Research Foundation and the World Wildlife Fund.

James Fairfax’s Australian art collection covers periods from the mid 19th century to the present day and includes such gems as Eugene von Guerard’s Mr John King’s Station, 1861.

Painted at the peak of his career, it is one of only two Gippsland property portraits that von Guerard painted – the other being the National Gallery of Australia’s View of the Gippsland Alps from Bushy Park on the River Avon, 1861.

Other paintings of note in the collection include Tom Roberts’ Lady with an Parasol, c1889 and Arthur Streeton’s Minarets, Cairo, 1897 – painted at the zenith of his artistic powers.

Auction goers also will be impressed with Charles Condor’s Rainy Day, 1888 and Rupert Bunny’s At the Pump, c1908.

Among the Australian modern artists is Sydney Nolan’s Glenrowan, 1955 and Fairfax friend Jeffrey Smart’s Miss Amhurst’s First Visit to Rome, 1968-69.

Other paintings include Fred Williams Landscape (The Charcoal Burner), 1959, John Brack’s Nude with Purple Rug, 1985, Roy de Maistre’s The Beach, 1924, Grace Cossington-Smith’s Sofa in the Corner, 1962 and William Robinson’s Morning Springbrook and West, 1995. 

Viewing 16 Goodhope Street, Paddington in Sydney. 

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