By Terry Ingram, on 15-Jun-2016

A painting of the Olgas made £1.265 million, more than twice its estimate at a Sotheby's sale in London on 13 June.

Surprisingly it was not painted by any of Australia's artists who are often maligned, especially in Britain, as overpriced artists.

The painting, shows kangaroos hoping realistically in Central Australia, far more vigorously than any 19th century Australian illustrative artist of early last century like J A Turner or Percy Spence might have attempted.

A painting of the Olgas made £1.265 million, more than twice its estimate at a Sotheby's sale in London on 13 June. Surprisingly it was not painted by any of Australia's artists who are often maligned, especially in Britain, as overpriced. The painting, shows kangaroos hoping realistically in Central Australia, far more vigorously than any 19th century Australian illustrative artist responsible for the work of early last century, like J A Turner or Percy Spence might have attempted.

Such fervent depictions of Australian fauna also appear to have eluded the great Olga's painter Brett Whiteley who perhaps alone challenges him as a producer of the same landscape.

The artist has not made Australian sale room records because, of course, he is not Australian. The work appeared in a sale of modern British art where Australian artists like Sidney Nolan and Roy de Maistre might occasionally be expected to appear.

Near Maukata, Evening near Katatjuta (the Olgas) is by Michael Andrews, 1928 - 1995 who has been a very slow and fastidious producer of art works with little interest in publicity. It was estimated at £500,000 to £700,000,

Andrews has been promoted as one of the most influential British artists since 1945.

He is a leading member of the School of London which included Lucian Freud and Frank Auerbach through to David Hockney, and has had a retrospective at London's Tate Gallery.

Another Australian work by Andrews sold for a lot of money in 2008 when a different view of The Olgas sold for £937,000.

The latest offering came from the collection of New York lawyer and venture capitalist Ed Cohen who is one of Americas best known collectors. Its provenance includes the London dealer Anthony d'Offay who has done a lot of business in Australia.

Andrews visited Central Australia in 1982, spending 10 days taking hundreds of photographs and climbing and walking around the base of Uluru.

Possibly his most celebrated series of works was Lights which was the result of a nostalgic balloon flight over Scotland.

The large 214 by 285 cm acrylic on canvas is twice dated 1986 and was sold in an auction of modern and post war British art.

About one quarter of the sale proceeds of £10.9 million which Sotheby's says represents a sell through rate of 79 per cent went on works by the British sculptor Barbara Hepworth with some lesser works by L S Lowry selling well on behalf of the British singer Cilla Black.

The Daintree Forest has also been put on the art map by at least one contemporary English photographer but Colonial art buffs must be waiting with considerable excitement for the unveiling of Kerry Stokes large collection of Northern Territory oils and water colours acquired from London's Royal Geographical Society and sold by them because of deficiencies in the society's pension fund.

Baines of course spent a lot more time in Australia than Andrews.

About The Author

Terry Ingram inaugurated the weekly Saleroom column for the Australian Financial Review in 1969 and continued writing it for nearly 40 years. His scoops include the Whitlam Government's purchase of Blue Poles in 1973 and repeated fake scandals (from contemporary art to antique silver) and auction finds. He has closely followed the international art, collectors and antique markets to this days. Terry has also written two books on the subjects

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