Dave’s Faves for Bonhams “Fairwater” auction on 22 September 2019

We all love a good home contents auction, but “Fairwater” in Point Piper is not just any old home, but the ultimate Sydney harbour front mansion on 11,000 m2 of manicured grounds.

The largest privately-held property on Sydney harbour was owned by the Fairfax publishing dynasty for over 100 years. This year the family sold it for $100 million, the highest price ever for an Australian residential property, to new money, tech entrepreneur Mike Cannon-Brookes.

The 376 lots comprise everything from Persian carpets, grandfather clocks, crystal, porcelain and silverware, tapestry, Buddha statues, chandeliers and all manner furniture, to Australian and international art.

There are some stand-out bronze sculptures by Auguste Rodin and works by Marc Chagall, Edgar Degas and other European greats – but you will have to bid at Bonhams in London for those.

In the Sydney auction however, there is an extremely important study of the portrait of Joshua Smith by William Dobell on offer, made famous by a famous court case. You would think given the loss in a house fire of the original painting that won the Archibald Prize in 1943, this is the painting that the Art Gallery of New South Wales has to have.

The viewing is held in Sydney only from 14 to 21 September, 10 am – 4 pm, at 36-40 Queen Street and 97-99 Queen  Street, Woollahra.

The auction is held on Sunday, 22 September, 1 pm, at 36-40 Queen Street, Woollahra.

You can view the catalogue also online on the Bonhams website.

Other notable offerings from the collection include works by Margaret Preston, Bertram MacKennal, Charles Blackman, so David has gone through the whole home content catalogue and chose his art “Dave’s Faves” and picking some other rather intriguing lots:

Lot 11 – Bertram Mackennal, Salome, c1895, height 29 cm, est. $15,000-25,000. Bertie’s Bronze Beauty

Lot 12 – Margaret Preston, Coral Flowers, 36 x 35.5 cm, est. $30,000-50,000. One to bowl you over

Lot 31 – Charles Blackman, The Meeting, 1961, 121 x 121 cm, est. $250,000-350,000. Paint it Black(man)

Lot 180 – Patrick Hockey, Spring, 1977, 90.5 x 121 cm, est. $2,500-35,00. Nicely Sprung

Lot 198 – George Edwards Peacock, Port Jackson, NSW, View in Double Bay, looking towards St. George’s and Middle Heads, Morning, 1847, 13.5 x 19 cm, est. $20,000-30,000. Double Peacock at Double Bay – lot 198 and lot 199

Lot 251 – William Dobell, Study for Portrait of an Artist (Joshua Smith), 1943, 36 x 25.5 cm, est. $200,000-300,000. Get in quick B4 AGNSW

Lot 216 – Sali Herman, Portrait of Warwick Fairfax, Esquire, 1941, 72 x 52 cm, est. $30,000-50,000. Can’t believe it’s not an early Lucien Freud

Lot 220 – Vic O’Connor, The Acrobats, 1941, 60 x 75 cm, est. $15,000-20,000. Enjoy a Tumble

Lot 226 – Russell Drysdale, Solider rolling a cigarette, 19 x 19.5 cm, est. $4,000-6,000. Don’t stop smokin’

Lot 227 – Russell Drysdale, Soldiers applying a Bandage, 17 x 26 cm, est. $4,000-6,000. I dig these Diggers

Lot 221 – Andrew Lawlor, Nude in Archway (Banner of Blood), c1940, 55 x 44 cm, est. $8,000-12,000. Not quite lawless

Lot 232 – Hans Heysen, The Farmyard, Frosty Morning, 1926, 70 x 90 cm, est. $80,000-120,000. Where to begin … well it won the Wynne

Lot 233 – Elaine Haxton, Woolloomooloo, 34 x 42 cm, est. $8,000-12,000. Not exactly a hullabaloo at Woolloomooloo

Lot 234 – Sali Herman, A Western Hotel, Cobar, 1947, 53 x 74 cm, est. $20,000-30,000. Cobbers at Cobar

Lot 331 – Arthur Boyd, Lovers, c.1962-3, ceramic painting, 51 x 56 cm, est. $20,000-30,000. Fancy a night on the tiles?



Lot 128w – A life sized Steiff plush mohair “Ride on” growler bear on wheels, c1950, 90 cm high, est. $400-600. Looking for his meal – on wheels


Lot 127w – An assembled group of Victorian silver rattles, est. $800-1,200. The perfect gift for silver spooners

Lot 192w – A Victorian Staghorn Inkstand, ca 1880, 39.5 cm high, est. $300-500. Oh Deer

Lot 223w – A crocodile skin vanity case with silver accessories, Drew & Sons, Piccadilly Circus, London, 1903, est. $500-800. Be the snappiest dresser ever

Lot 251w – A French empire maple giltwood and gesso concert harp, early 19th century, by Sebastian Erard, once in the ballroom of the Pierre Hotel Fairfax penthouse New York, est. $1,500-2,000. It’s never too late to learn something new

Lot 317w – An assembled group of Italian table ornaments, Brandimarte Firenze and others, with a pair of angel form table bells, 2 pairs of metal salts in the form of horse drawn chariots with putto and 18 cherub form place card holders (24), est. $400-600. Have you seen the salt, darling?

Bonhams "Fairwater" Auction
Woollahra, 36-40 Queen Street,
Starting on
September 22, 2019
Ending on
September 22, 2019
The collection of Sir Warwick and Lady Fairfax

Written by

Hi, 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 specialise in art valuations for insurance purposes, for family division, deceased estates, superannuation funds and market values, and advise clients regarding purchase and sales of art (art brokerage). Our services are sought by private clients, companies, public galleries and councils alike. Our aim is to provide professional service with friendly, approachable manner.

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