Exciting Fine Art Auctions in Melbourne Next Week

I have four art auction catalogues on my desk. There is always a selection of very special offerings to be found in their pages, so I thought I would share some of them with you. All four sales are happening in Melbourne between 23rd and 26th November: Mossgreen Auctions, Bonhams and Goodman, Sothebys and last but not least Deutscher + Hackett.

If you would like any advice or assistance with any of the works, please do not hesitate to contact us – [email protected]  or phone 02 9977 0700.

Mossgreen Auctions are holding a mammoth sale of 1352 lots – 350 lots of this sale are from the estate of the late Graham Cornall, a Melbourne antique dealer and unusually all to be sold without reserve.

Perhaps only a quarter of this sale is dedicated to pictures, so let’s have a look at some highlights and interesting stuff. The big pictures of this sale are the first 38 lots: Lot 10 by Tracy Moffatt, Something More, No 1, 1989, is this artist’s best-known image. The photograph is not shown in this auction catalogue, however Mossgreen have taken the imaginative step of producing their own stencil of the image to illustrate the work.

Dependent on the estimate on this one, it should provide big interest: Charles Blackman’s “The Bouquet” from 1959, purchased from the Antipodean exhibition in 1959. Looks like a stunner to me.

In the international section at Mossgreen, we find a most appealing sculpture by Max Ernst, edition 26/35, and at $ 3,000 to $ 5,000 looks like a bargain.

Lots 1014 and 1015 are an excellent pair of lithographs by Henry Moore. They are small at 30 x 22.5 cm, but unmistakeably Moore, very pretty and with estimates of $ 1,500 to $ 2,500 good buying.

I also rather like lot 1016: ‘Le Port de Grandville’ is a very appealing watercolour by none other than Paul Signac with impeccable provenance, estimate $ 10,000 to $ 15,000 – will no doubt go overseas with our dollar, but worth competing against British dealers for.

Francis Bacon is flavour of the month. Here is a chance to pick up one of his original coloured lithographs for a tiny fraction of the amount of one of his paintings. ‘Triptych’, a work from 1976, sold in May 2008 at Sothebys New York for US$ 77 million. Lots 1017 to 1023 are all Francis Bacon works on paper, with estimates from $ 2,000 to $ 10,000. My favourite has the lowest estimate: lot 1022 ‘Bullfight’, $ 2,000 to $ 3,000.

Finally a rather charming image by Henry John Yeend-King ‘ Boys fishing from the Pier in Looe, Cornwall’, oil on canvas, has an estimate of $ 25,000 to $ 30,000.

Next Sotheby’s sale is to be held on Monday, 24th November. Sotheby’s have been commissioned by the Art Gallery of New South Wales to sell a very large Brett Whiteley, lot 23, titled ‘Balmoral’; it consists of a number of his contorted sunworshippers stretched out on the beach. At 180 x 204 cm and with that provenance, it will be interesting to see where this one goes – estimate $ 700,00 to $ 900,000. No doubt the TV cameras will be there to let us know. All proceeds go towards the purchase of the new AU$ 16 million Cezanne for the Art Gallery of NSW.

Sticking with the Francis Bacon theme, lot 69 is titled ‘Francis Bacon’s Studio’ – yes interestingly, this work is by our very own Roy de Maistre, estimated at $ 60,000 to $ 80,000. There are six works by Roy de Maistre from this private collection in Switzerland.

They include an unappealing portrait of Francis Bacon from 1935, hence the estimate of $ 8,000 to $ 12,000.

I like lot 72 the most, also from 1935: ‘Arrested Movement from a Trio”, it’s all about de Maistre’s forte colour, this wonderful abstract work is estimated at $ 35,000 – $ 45,000.

With 79 lots, it’s quite a short sale from Sotheby, and similarly with the Bonhams and Goodmans sale scheduled for 25 November with just 55 lots.

Keeping it short and sweet is obviously Geoffrey Smith’s intention here. It works well. Of course it starts off brilliantly with lot 1, about as poignant as you can get: A.J. Daplyn’s ‘Bad News from the Bank”, 1884, estimated at $ 8,000 – $ 12,000. Times don’t really change, do they?

A cracking picture is John Peter Russell’s lot 8, ‘Sydney Harbour’, oil on canvas, 50.6 x 70.5 cm; vibrant and so full of life and colour – a great picture, and estimate is on request. A great price – no doubt.

I just can’t help it. Although I generally find will Ashton’s paintings of Australia bland and boring, his European works always offer us engaging subjects, great composition and brilliant light. His works come onto the market regularly and with such low prices. Lot 10 is titled ‘Capri’, 1926 with an estimate of $ 4,000 to $ 6,000. If you want to start a collection – with Will Ashton’s European pictures you can’t go wrong.

You don’t need me to tell you that lot 14 is an absolute corker of a painting by William Dobell, ‘Cockney Kid with Hoop’, 1936, estimate $ 250,000 to $ 350,000. Wow! This should do very well indeed.

The highest price paid at auction for a work by Robert Dickerson is $ 112,800 including buyer’s premium, also by Bonhams and Goodman in August 2008, for ‘The Waiting Room’, 1955. Will their lot 20, ‘Boy in Street’, from 1954 break this record? It’s the same size at 122 x 91.5 cm I don’t think so, but it could get pretty close. The estimate is $ 90,000 to $ 120,000.

I generally like Ray Crooke’s earlier darker and moodier works. Lot 43 from 1987 however should appeal to many for its composition, colour and size, with an estimate of $ 25,000 to $ 35,000. It will exceed comfortably.

Something more of ‘Something More’, lot 45. If you didn’t manage to purchase Tracey Moffatt’s photograph at Mossgreen, then you can try your luck at Bonhams and Goodman – or perhaps you would like the two. The illustration of the work has been allowed here, so no imagination required. The estimate is $ 60,000 to $ 80,000.

Finally let’s have a look at the last sale of this auction-filled week: Deutscher + Hackett on 26th November.

I have been a fan of James Gleeson’s early surrealist work ever since I saw the exhibition of the Agapitos and Wilson collection at the SH. Ervin Gallery in Sydney. Sadly, both Mr Agapitos and Mr Gleeson have passed on; fortunately, the art lives on.

Lot 1 for me is a proper tribute to Gleeson’s talent. Gritty and full-on, ‘The Betrothal of Two Classic Edifices’ from 1943 is wonderful – and a great title, too. Beat that one, Damian Hirst! The estimate is $ 25,000 to $ 35,000.

Considering Australians’ obsession with sport, it is surprising how little sport seems to be portrayed in art. When it is, it can be done amazingly well. Lot 9 by John Brack works brilliantly: ‘Footballers’, 1956, conte on paper, estimated at $ 55,000 to $ 75,000.

Keeping nicely with the sport scene, how about this: Yes, lot 16 is an illustration by Norman Lindsay. This is just such a fabulous picture. It portrays the boxing fight between Jack Johnson and Tommy Burns on Boxing Day 1908 and really breaks the mould on prices for illustration. If anyone can do it, Lindsay can. His illustrations normally sell for around $ 2,000. This watercolour has an estimate of $ 25,000 to $ 30,000 but could do much better, I suspect.

If you want iconic, look no further: lot 18, Charles Meere Studio, ‘Australian Beach Pattern’, 1940, estimate $ 180,000 to $ 220,000.

eX de Medici has well and truly arrived on the secondary market. Watch lot 29, ‘A Cool hand with the dice / Biggie’, 2007. A spectacular work, priced at $ 50,000 to $ 70,000, it deserves to do spectacularly well.

There really are some wonderful pictures in this sale. I also like Peter Booth’s painting from 2005: lot 35, Figure in Olive Jumper, estimate $ 80,000 to $ 120,000 and Noel Mckenna’s ‘Children’s Ride’,1989, lot 37, estimate $ 7,000 to $ 9,000.

As a major Ben Quilty fan, I cannot ignore lot 38. Nothing significant of Quilty’s work has yet appeared on the secondary market until now. The Torana series made his name. This oil on canvas, 85 x 80 cm from is a knockout – I want it! It’s conservatively estimated at $ 15,000 – $ 20,000.

Rarely do we see the work of George Rayner Hoff, unless we visit the Australian War Memorial or the Art Gallery of NSW. Lot 53 ‘Hercules, Deinanira and Achelous’, 1920, is an exquisite work and conservatively priced with an estimate of $ 6,000 to $ 8,000.

Lots 124 to 130 are all conservatively priced original Norman Lindsay etchings from $ 3,000 – worth a look!

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