Emily Kame Kngwarreye is the indigenous apple of the Australian auction eye

Collectors of Australian indigenous art wanting to ensure their investment is safe and increasing in value need not look further than the iconic Emily Kame Kngwarreye (c1910-1996) – one of Australia’s greatest Aboriginal artists.

Four of her paintings featured among the top 10 results at Deutscher and Hackett’s Important Australian Indigenous Art auction on March 26 in Melbourne – led by Untitled (Endunga) 1990 (lot 7) which topped the sale at $331,364 (including buyer’s premium), well over its $150,000-$250,000 catalogue estimate.

The Deutscher and Hackett auction realised $2,358,204 where 86 per cent of the paintings sold at 131 per cent of their estimated value.

Gingere Riley Munduwalawala (c1936-2002) filled second spot with his Christmas at Old Roper Mission 1995-96, that sold for $245,455 on a $120,000 high estimate, commissioned by the Anglican Diocese of the Northern Territory to hang in the Anglican Christ Cathedral Church in Darwin.

The painting pays tribute to his mother’s Limmen Bight country and includes his interpretation of the Anglican church, in the form of the Roper River mission station established in 1908, within its boundaries.

Two more Emily Kngwarreye paintings followed – Untitled (Emu Country) 1993 (lot 8) for $110,455 ($70,000-$90,000 estimate) – and Alagura Landscape I 1994 (lot 35) for a pleasing $108,000 against its $70,000 high estimate.

The final top 10 Kngwarreye, Untitled 1994 (lot 23), changed hands for $79,773 on a catalogue estimate of $50,000-$70,000.

Hermannsburg Mission star Albert Namatjira (1902-1959), who in 1934 began painting professionally after viewing a watercolours exhibition by Victorian artists Rex Battarbee and John Gardner, had five of his central Australia works in the auction – two of which finished among the top 10.

One was titled Ranges West Simpsons Gap (lot 28) which brought $81,000 on a $40,000-$60,000 estimate, while the other Ghost Gums North MacDonnell Ranges (lot 30) sold for $73,636 against its $40,000 high estimate.

Tommy McRae’s (c1836-1901) War Dance 1900 (lot 11) changed hands for the same price, along with Michael Cook’s Natures Mortes 2021 (lot 33).

An important early indigenous historian, McRae pictorially recorded the cultural transition from traditional Australian Aboriginal life to one where interaction with settlers became widespread.

Angelina Ngale Apwerl (Pwerle) filled the final spot in the top 10 with work entitled Anookitja (Bush Plum) 2019 (lot 22) that sold for $68,727.

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