Tuesday and Wednesday evening saw the conclusion to the year’s Fine Art Auctions. Two were held on the same night – Bonhams & Goodman at Double Bay and Shapiro’s at Woollahra. Sorry, could only be at one place at a time …, so our report is on the Bonhams & Goodman sale and Deutscher-Menzies auction held last night.
The Bonhams & Goodman auction – cannon practise ricochets
Norman Lindsay is still going strong with highly respectable prices paid for lot 38 “The Rivals”, a vibrant watercolour with an estimate of $ 15,000 – $ 20,000. It sold for $ 37,650 (all sale prices mentioned include buyer’s premium).
The cover picture, a striking work by Albert Tucker titled “Explorer” from 1965 went exceptionally well. On estimates of $ 80,000 – $ 120,000 it sold for $ 163,960.
Ethnographic artifact or fine art? Lot 19 was a woomera with a watercolour painting by Albert Namatjira and could surely qualify as both. On estimates of $ 4,000 – $ 6,000, this example sold well above at $ 10,325.
Lot 93 was described as a work by a follower of Abraham Storck (Dutch 1644 – 1708). Clearly two prominent Sydney art dealers did not believe it was by any follower of anyone. Its title “Cannon Practise” was more than appropriate as their bids ricocheted back and forward across the room like cannon fire. Dealer Denis Savill won the duel with a blazing $ 87,445 on estimates of $ 8,000 – $ 12,000.
Deutscher-Menzies – Fine Arts Spectacular
Last night’s fine art sale at Deutscher-Menzies held at the Sofitel Wentworth Hotel was spectacular, with auctioneers Anita Archer and Martin Farrah in rip-roaring form.
Deutscher-Menzies produced what is a rarity in Australian art auctions: a significant amount of sales went substantially above the high estimate. The sale of the very first lot – a painting by John Olsen, “Lilly Trotters Ord River” from 1984, a large mixed medium – set the tone for the whole evening: with an estimate of $ 25,000 – $ 35,000, the painting sold for $ 85,400.
Anita Archer played the packed room to perfection, and none better evidenced than with the sale of lot 22 “The Yard Builder” by Russell Drysdale, 1965. The two main bidders were both present in the room (not on one of the record 12 phones) and almost sitting next to each other right at the front. Anita concentrated her gaze solely on two of them, dropped her voice and looked like she was not ever going to let them stop bidding. Well, one finally did, but not until he had spent $ 729,600…. (on estimates of $ 340,000 – $ 400,000)
In light of the continuing success with Brett Whiteley paintings this year, lot 25 was destined to go the same way: “The Meeting Place” from 1981 did not disappoint. On estimates of $ 500,000 – $ 650,000 it sold for a very healthy $ 854,000.
It is good to see the work of Rex Dupain against the work of his father Max Dupain equalling and even surpassing his prices: lot 135 “Bondi Brolly” of 2002 by Rex Dupain sold for $ 7,930, while lot 136 “Sharks at Bondi” 1940’s by Max sold for $ 7,320. Australian photographs by Max Dupain are still highly undervalued – who knows for how long?
Our final comments go to two earlier works, one by Sydney Long (1871-1955) and one by Jessie Traill (1881 – 1967) Lot 102 by Sydney Long was always going to do well – a beautiful image of “Boats and Figures, Narrabeen”, it sold well over its estimates of $ 15,000 – $ 18,000 for $ 34,160. The very large etching by Jessie Traill “From Overseas”, 1913, deservedly sold well at $ 5,125 on an estimate of $ 1,000 – $ 1,500.