Australian art on record roll

We don’t think that we can say much more about the Sotheby’s sale last week that hasn’t already been said in the national press. With a sale of $ 22 million, this has clearly set a significant benchmark in the history of Australian art and will be referred to as much as the previous record set by the Harold E. Mertz collection sale in 2000 for $ 15.9 million with Christies.

Several artists’ works achieved new auction records, notably:

The Brett Whiteley of the Sydney Opera House that everybody talked about, achieved a record for the artist with $ 2.4 million (excluding buyer’s premium). Yet the highest ever auction price for an Australian work went to John Brack’s work “The Old Time” which was sold for $ 2.8 million (excluding buyer’s premium). John Peter Russell’s “Boys on the beach, Belle-Ile” also set a new record over the million dollar mark, with $ 1.5 million before buyer’s premium.

William Robinson’s “Landscape with Sunset and Self Portrait” achieved $ 580,000 excluding buyer’s premium, on an estimate of $ 200,000 – $300,000. More records where achieved by Leonard French with “The Crossing” on $ 130,000 excluding buyer’s premium, and also Penleigh Boyd with $ 195,000 (excl buyers premium) for “The Boyd Homestead at Yarra Glen” and Elioth Gruner’s “Mingola Valley” set a new benchmark for the artist at $125,000 (excl buyers premium).

And two day’s later in Melbourne, Deutscher and Hackett’s inaugural sale was a sparkling success; where we were able to attend the auction. We were very impressed with what appears to be the first custom designed fine art auction room in Australia. The art can be beautifully displayed in both Sydney and Melbourne, with very much of a gallery feel. And most importantly for one used to sitting through three to four hour auctions: the seats are comfy, a big plus as far as we are concerned.

In other auction news closer to home: we are very pleased that the works that we sold on behalf of a local client bought at a garage sale in Killara 13 years ago for $ 50 sold in excess of $ 28,000. They were sold through Bonhams and Goodman – a great result for our client.

Australian Impressionism at the Ian Potter Centre…

When in Melbourne, be sure not to miss this comprehensive exhibition – it’s only on in Melbourne until 8 July 2007.

It contains a large and complex selection of art from the Big Five Australian Impressionists Charles Conder, Frederick McCubbin, Tom Roberts, Arthur Streeton and Jane Sutherland.

Obviously, it’s proving to be a big success judging by the crowds of people at the Ian Potter Centre at 10 am on a Wednesday. The experience is well worth it and you will be richly rewarded. This is a fantastic opportunity to see the best work of these five formidable painters, explore their associations and influences, and also encounter many works from the notorious and famous 9 by 5 exhibition originally held in 1889.

….and our Exhibition Art Game

We all have different taste in art and what we like and don’t like. Brigitte and myself do this every time we visit a public gallery and you might like to try it. At the end of the visit, go back through the exhibition and pick the painting that you would most like to have on your wall at home, totally disregarding the assumed value of the work. Then pick the painting that in your opinion would sell for the most amount of money if it came on to the open market and was sold at auction.

Now this is a particularly difficult one with over 250 works in the show. We both felt that one personal choice was not enough. And it is also difficult because some of these paintings are icons and have been reproduced so often.

Brigitte chose Arthur Streeton’s “Blue Pacific” – a wonderful sparkling blue Sydney scene in portrait format – and a delightful portrait “Harper’s Weekly” by Tom Roberts from the 9 by 5 exhibition .

David picked “Holiday Sketch at Coogee” by Tom Roberts from 1888 which is from the Art Gallery of NSW collection. His other choice was – another Roberts “Allegro con brio, Bourke Street West”, 1885-90, from the National Library and National Gallery collections. To me, this exhibition put Tom Roberts head and shoulders above the others, but of course this is personal taste.

And the winner of most valuable painting in the exhibition?

Well, for once Brigitte and myself were unanimous. Tom Roberts (again, no surprise really), “Shearing the Rams”, 1890, National Gallery of Victoria Collection. There is obviously some very good competition here from McCubbin’s “On the Wallaby Track”, Tom Robert’s “A Break Away” and Arthur Streeton’s “Fire’s on”, but the feeling is that “Shearing the Rams” would break through $ 5 million and could go much higher, possibly up to $ 10 million were it ever to be sold.

If you view the show, please let us know your comments.

Written by

Brigitte Banziger

Hello, my name is Brigitte Banziger and I am an art consultant and manager at Banziger Hulme Fine Art Consultants, Australia's art valuation and art advice experts. We offer comprehensive art valuation and art brokerage services (selling and buying art on behalf of clients). Our art services cover everything from valuations, art care and restoration, to general advice such as helping define the goals for your art purchase and work out the best strategy on how to achieve those goals, including where, how and and when to buy.

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