Australian media icons valuable paintings snapped up at auction

All bar one of the seven highly valuable paintings owned by two icons of Australian media and advertising sold within or above their catalogue estimates at Deutscher and Hackett’s Important Australian and International Fine Art Sydney September auction.

The paintings, all by Australia’s best known artists, were part of collections by founder of Australia’s largest advertising agency Clemenger BBDO Peter Clemenger and his wife Joan and media mogul the late Reg Grundy (1923-2016) and his actress wife Joy Chambers-Grundy.

The top selling work was the Clemenger-owned Fred Williams’ (1927-1982) Lysterfield Landscape, 1968-69 (lot 3) which changed hands for $2,331,818 including buyer’s premium.

The painting is recognised as a masterpiece form the peak of Williams’ career and is a testament to his legacy as one of the most visionary artists of his era.

Jeffrey Smart’s (1921-2013) Portrait of Germaine Greer, 1984 (lot 2) – also owned by Clemenger – sold for $1,227,273.

In the early 1980s, Greer and Smart were close friends – dining at each other’s Tuscan homes and mixing in the same circles.

However, she complained the work was not like her and refused to pose further after he completed a pencil study of her face – so instead Smart used a body double to complete the painting, which shows her sitting stiffly on a chair wearing a conservative top and long blue skirt and clutching her leather handbag.

Smart like to paint portraits of well-known Australians while also monitoring his ageing face through a series of self-portraits every five to 10 years.

Ian Fairweather (1891-1974) fills third spot with his work Gamelan (lot 5) which brought $1,165,909. This was painted five years after he moved to Bribie Island off Queensland’s coast, living in primitive conditions in two huts built using materials obtained from the surrounding bush.

Brett Whiteley’s (1939-1992) Self Portrait 1977 (lot 1) was another good performer, selling for $675,000 on a $280,000-$350,000 catalogue estimate, while his work entitled The Frenchman (lot 9) brought a solid $306,818.

Another top artist was John Brack (1920-199) with his work Posies 1990 (lot 4) changing hands for $589,091.

Autumn, 1989 (lot 7) by Rosalie Gascoigne (1917-1999) – part of the Grundy collection – sold for the low catalogue estimate of $220,909 – the same price as Eugene von Guerard’s (1811-1901) Mount Arapiles Towards the Grampians, 1870 (lot 14).

Louis Buvelot’s (1814-1888) Bacchus Marsh Pasture, 1876 (lot 17) and Arthur Streeton’s (1867-1943) Boronia Peak and Stawell, 1920 (lot 20) performed equally well at a $245,455 return.

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