Highlights from the upcoming Fine Art Auctions at Sothebys and Deutscher + Hackett in Melbourne

The next two Fine Art Sales from Sothebys and Deutscher + Hackett promise an absolute feast of great art.

In a bullish art market of course we are bound to see vendors tempted to sell exceptional works of art. If the stock market jitters subside, I think we are going to observe another wave of art auction records for Australian art.

Sothebys on 27 and 28 August 2007

Sotheby’s offers a much more subdued and calming work by Brett Whiteley in their lot 9 work “San Gimignano” – a move away from some of the “in your face” and confronting major works offered of late. With estimates of $ 600,000 to $ 800,000, this work should do well.

I have to confess that I find Jeffrey Smart’s earlier work from the 1950s and 1960s much more interesting than his later work. Lot 10 “The Park” is no exception to this, painted in 1960 and a fine work indeed.

We are going to see an overall result of up to $ 16 million on the Sothebys sale. A big part of that result (and what the TV cameras will be there for) is lots 12 and 16. Of course, you couldn’t get two more different paintings, even though they are both landscapes and created 90 years apart.

Lot 12 is Eugene von Guerard’s “The Great Lake, Tasmania”, from 1875 and has an estimate of $ 1.2 million to $ 1.6 million. Lot 16 “Hillside 1” was painted in 1965 by Fred Williams and comes with an estimate of $ 1.8 million to $ 2.2 million.

Sothebys have already put the Williams ahead in the race with their estimates, and I am sure they are right. However, don’t discount the magnificent seascape by John Peter Russell, lot 28. As fresh as the day it was painted “Rocher Auchien, Clos Marron, Belle-Ile”, estimate $ 450,000 to $ 650,000 could do considerably better after a sale in May his year of “Boys on the Beach, Belle-Ile” at   $ 1.8 million. Russell’s star is rising very rapidly indeed.

If you went to see the Australian impressionism exhibition at the Ian Potter Centre you will very much appreciate our favourite lot in the Sothebys sale, lot 24 “Lone Rider”. This diminutive work measures just 25.9 x 16.5 cm and has everything you could possibly want from a work by Arthur   Streeton. The estimate is $ 180,000 to $ 220,000.

From 1895 let’s move to the year 2000, in fact to an artist born in 1972: Lot 33 “Storm Sequence” by Shaun Gladwell is very much a first for Australian art at auction: the very first time that a piece of video art has hit the sales room. Of course, this particular work was recently showed at the Venice Biennale. Could we see video art as a regular inclusion in the sale room? Seems doubtful but it will be very interesting to see the result of this sale, on an estimate of $ 70,000 to $ 90,000.

Fred Williams’ works on paper continue to be massively underpriced, certainly in comparison to his oils. See lots 65 and 70 at $ 25,000 to $ 35,000 and $ 30,000 to $ 40,000 respectively; these are great value works.

Well, I could keep going with my picks from Sothebys – I will just point out two more because they are quirky and fun: From day two of their sale, Noel McKenna’s “Clear Day” from 2002, estimate $ 10,000 to $ 15,000 and “Burke and Wills bed down for the night” by David Boyd, with the same estimates.

Deutscher + Hackett on 29 August 2007

Let’s move on to the Deutscher + Hackett auction then. Deutscher + Hackett’s catalogue offers us, like Sothebys, a feeling of historical context with its varied and interesting content. This time, it also comes with an international feel.

Firstly, we should declare our particular interest in two of the works in the sale: lot 1, “Seated Woman” by Rah Fizelle. We are delighted to be acting for the great niece of the artist in the sale of this previously unknown and highly significant portrait, estimate $ 45,000 to $ 65,000.

Then lot 48 John Peter Russell’s “Portrait of Dodge Macknight”, c. 1887. To be representing the family of William Dodge Macknight in the sale of this work is a rare honour for Banziger Hulme Fine Art Consultants.   The importance of this painting should not be underestimated: it is the only known portrait of American painter Dodge Macknight in existence and painted by John Peter Russell in the same year he portrayed Vincent Van Gogh – this work is located in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. The whereabouts of the Dodge Macknight portrait have been largely unknown until now. The fact that Van Gogh wrote to John Peter Russell (the letter is now located at the Guggenheim Museum, New York)   about the fine quality of this painting adds significantly to the importance of the portrait, which comes with an estimate of $ 200,000 to $ 250,000.

The works by Lucian Freud lot 23, Lynn Chadwick lot 24 and Auguste Rodin lot 25 provide the catalogue a more European flavour.

Deutscher + Hackett also have a stand-out Streeton on offer. Lot 47 gives us “North Shore, Sydney”, 1892, estimated at $ 180,000 to $ 240,000. Brett Whiteley’s “Vincent”, 1968, is lot 10 and the one for the TV cameras, estimate $ 1 million to $ 1.5 million.

After some extremely impressive results for John Brack’s work, Deutscher + Hackett will be pleased to have lots 17 and 18, “Roofs of Burwood” 1962 with estimates of $ 350,000 to $ 450,000 and “Two Girls on the lines”, 1977, estimate $ 80,000 to $ 100,000.

I find Arthur Boyd’s three works, lots 28, 29 and 30, all particularly appealing works, and they should all do well.

At the lower end of the scale, there are also some beautiful offerings: Lot 113 is a very pretty ink and wash drawing by John Glover, “Tasmanian Landscape”, at the estimates $ 3,000 to $ 5,000. Lot 138 is a very early etching by John Brack “Head of a Woman”, 1954, edition 12 / 50, estimate $ 4,000 to $ 6,000.   Or what about this beautiful portrait of a girl by Janet Cumbrae-Stewart from 1923, lot 120? The pastel work has an estimate of $ 4,000 to $ 5,000.

Written by

Brigitte Banziger

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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