Masterpieces by Ian Fairweather Lead Deutscher & Hackett 24 April Australian Art Sale

Masterpieces by Ian Fairweather Lead Deutscher & Hackett 24 April Australian Art Sale
"Temple Yard, Peking, 1936" by Ian Fairweather (detail)
(Courtesy Deutscher and Hackett)

Deutscher and Hackett have brought together an impressive catalogue of artworks for their second auction of 2013, the 24 April sale of Important Australian and International Art. The sale features a selection of museum-worthy paintings from two private collections as well as works by some of Australia’s most sought-after artists including Arthur Boyd, Brett Whiteley, John Brack, and Jeffrey Smart.

The highlight of the auction is a group of early Ian Fairweather paintings from the collection of Lina Bryans, herself a highly regarded modernist painter. Bryans was a great admirer of Fairweather’s work and became friends with the artist after an introduction by William “Jock” Frater, a modernist painter and friend of Fairweather’s through whom Bryans had bought some Fairweather paintings.

According to Gillian Forwood, an art historian, curator, and the author of “Lina Bryans: Rare Modern 1909-2000,” “Fairweather and Bryans together captured a particular period in Australian cultural history during and after the bleak post-war years.”

A total of four Fairweather paintings from the Lina Bryans collection are being auctioned by Deutscher Hackett, the most valuable of which is “Boats at Soochow Creek.”  This painting is a spectacular document of Fairweather’s early travels throughout Asia and has been exhibited extensively throughout Australia. It is being offered with an estimate of $500,000 – 700,000.           

Likely to evoke interest from major museums are three highly desirable paintings by Eugene Von Guerard from the Estate of Lady Casy, a painter, illustrator, and patron of the arts. The first lot consists of two smaller landscape paintings from 1855; the second lot features a larger sweeping panorama of Melbourne’s Yarra Bend painted in 1871. Both lots are being offered with an estimate of $150,000 – 250,000.

Arthur Boyd's “Sleeping Nude, 1962” is one of the artist’s most visceral images. Appearing at auction for the first time, the painting is well documented thanks to its inclusion in major exhibitions including the Arthur Boyd retrospective at London’s Whitechapel Gallery in 1962. “Sleeping Nude, 1962” is Arthur Boyd at his absolute best and a great buy if it stays within its $350,000 – 450,000 estimate.

Fans of Ben Quilty will be excited by the opportunity to acquire the artist’s Rorschach painting “Insignia 3, 2007,” a steal at $30,000 – 40,000 (estimate). Michael Zavros, another young artist currently in vogue, is represented by a wonderfully energetic painting titled a work that resonates with his 2012 Bulgari Art Award-winning painting “Thoroughbred Panthera Pardus.” At 140 x 140cm the Zavros painting is worth the $25,000 – 35,000 estimate and more.

Russell Drysdale’s “Malay Boy, Broome” is worth every cent of the $300,000 – 400,000 estimate. A poignant portrait of a migrant Australian worker, “Malay Boy, Broome” is a fine reflection of Drydale’s affinity with the Australian outback and its people. The painting comes with an extensive exhibition history and is being offered at auction for the first time since 1999.

David Davies was an Australian artist associated with the Heidelberg School. His name may not hold the same cache as that of Conder, Roberts, or McCubbin, but he is definitely an artist worth knowing. Included in the 24 April sale is a beautiful little landscape painting by Davies estimated to fetch $120,000 – 160,000. Testament to the significance of the painting was its inclusion in the 2001 exhibition “Heidelberg to Heide: Creating an Australian Landscape 1850–1950.”  It is worth noting that significant paintings by Davies rarely appear on the market.

Joel Elenberg’s epic marble sculpture “Profile II, 1978” is another notable inclusion in the sale. The 222cm high (including base) totemic carving is elegant in its simplicity yet displays a powerful presence. Such significant works by Elenberg do not appear at auction very often which makes this work well worth considering.

The full catalogue for the 24 April auction can be viewed here