Blink and you might miss it … Shapiro Auction on Wednesday

A most significant and interesting sale of Australian and International art will be presented by Shapiro’s in Sydney this Wednesday 6th April 2011, 6 pm.

With all the big fine art auctioneers in town, it is often all too easy to overlook Shapiro’s, even though they occupy a high profile location at Queen Street in Woollahra, just a few steps from Sothebys. Shapiro’s very much do their own thing: they have a strong presence and hold regular sales of 20th century furniture and design.

There is no glossy catalogue to accompany this sale, only online images, we picked up a photocopied catalogue at the Queen Street showroom. Fine art auction catalogues are notoriously expensive to produce, and it will be interesting to see if a lack of one here proves that internet images are enough to entice the buyers.

Well, the stars have certainly aligned for this fine art sale, with three important collections making this a very solid offering and a total of 144 lots including mixed vendor works. Conservative estimates abound and should assure strong interest.

The provenance is as good as it gets: 47 lots show provenance from Rudy Komon Gallery and 32 are from the estate of Mollie Gowing (of the Gowings retail family, champion of Aboriginal art and a major benefactor to the Art Gallery of NSW – see http://www.artgallery.nsw.gov.au/media-office/mollie-gowing-legacy/).

Nine important Indonesian paintings are listed as private collection, Sydney, and have a healthy combined estimate of $ 575,000 to $ 775,000. The picks for me are lot 41, Hendra Gunawan, ‘Selling Petals’, 1974, estimate $ 150,000 to $ 200,000, and lot 44, S. Sudjojono, ‘Kuda Lumping’, 1971, $ 60,000 to $ 80,000 – keep an eye on the phones for these ones.

The appetite for fresh stock with good provenance should be well and truly sated here for collectors and dealers alike.

There are a lot of very good works in this sale, and some very keen estimates. I like all three works by Euan McLeod lots 1, 3 and 5 with Watters Gallery and estate of Mollie Gowing provenance – you can’t go wrong here. Estimates are lot 1 $ 6,000 to $ 8,000, lot 3 $ 4,000 to $ 6,000 and $ 2,000 to $ 3,000 respectively.

I am not a huge fan of works by McLean Edwards, usually because of the dripping paint effect. However, this 2009 work ‘Songs from the Ghost Ship’ with Karen Woodbury Gallery provenance, is a lovely work and estimated at $ 16,000 to $ 19,000.

There are four works by Richard Larter in the sale. The large lot 9, 184 x 102 cm, ‘Going on’, from 1997, would be an absolute steal if you could purchase it within the $ 5,000 to $ 7,000 estimate.

Lot 26, Rosalie Gascoigne’s ‘Wild Strawberries’, 1995, is as lovely a work by the artist as you might encounter. We really like this work very much, and the provenance is excellent: Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, and the estimate is $ 120,000 to $ 180,000.

Lot 33, is a Tony Tuckson untitled abstract from Watters Gallery and once in the collection of James Fairfax. It should do well at $ 4,000 to $ 6,000.

Lot 36 is an attractive oil by Lloyd Rees, ‘Artist in landscape’; a good size with 40.5 x 50 cm and priced at $ 30,000 to $ 50,000, it deserves to do well.

Lot 38 – a Grace Cossington Smith for $ 12,000? Well, that’s the estimate $ 12,000 to $ 18,000 for ‘View through the Harbour’, 1952. If you can secure a purchase within these estimates, it is a very good buy, especially when you consider her average price at auction in 2010 was $ 52,623 based on 12 sales (statistics courtesy Australian Art Sales Digest).

Two Brett Whiteley etchings, lot 51 and 52, are good buying: ‘Woman under the Shower’, 1976 at $ 6,000 to $ 9,000 and ‘The Moreton Bay Fig’, 1979, at $ 3,000 to $ 5,000.

There are also three rather nice works by Arthur Boyd, all with a similar feel. All three show Rudy Komon Gallery provenance and all are good works.

Lot 53, ‘Nebuchadnezzar’, is an ink and wash work, 51 x 63.5 cm, and estimated at $ 5,000 to $ 7,000. Lot 57 is a lithograph on coloured paper, edition 30 of 45, 43.5 x 48.5 cm, with estimates of $ 1,000 to $ 1,200. Lot 60 ‘Stage Design no 2’, 1965, measures 31 x 36 cm, exhibited at the Art Gallery of Western Australia in 1978, estimates $ 3,000 to $, 5000.

Rare and sought after figurative works by Herbert Badham are more Edward Hopper and can achieve high prices in the auction room. This late abstract work, ‘Kaleidoscope’, 1956, looks far too cheap at $ 2,000 to $ 4,000. That’s what the painting sold for at Sothebys in 1989: $ 2,200 including buyer’s premium.

Lot 87 has a wonderful Matisse feel about it – ‘Figures in a landscape’ by Jean Bellette. It is estimated at just $ 1,500 to $ 2,000.

There are a number of works by Frank Hinder, some perhaps hindered by being sold together. The only one for me is lot 92, also with Ray Hughes Gallery Brisbane provenance. It is titled ‘Student CRTS No 2’, 1948, and it is worth a lot more than its $ 1,000 to $ 1,500 estimate.

Lot 105 should be highly contested: a beautiful Fred Williams aquatint, You Yangs Landscape No 1 from 1963-1964, will surely eclipse its $ 2,000 to $ 3,000 estimate.

Lot 108 is a divine, brightly coloured collage by Alun Leach-Jones, 27.5 x 31 cm, again from Rudy Komon Gallery $ 500 to $ 700.

We will be attending the auction, so if you are interested in a particular work, let us know as soon as possible. View images and details on Shapiro’s website. The viewing is on until Tuesday, 11 am – 5 pm.

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