By John Perry in Auckland, on 12-Aug-2016

The new team from across the Tasman Sea have pulled out all the stops in a serious effort to save the Art Department at Webb's, once billed as New Zealand's premier auction house

For the first of the fine art sales to come out under the ''newly minted'' Mossgreen-Webb's brand, an extensive and expensive 132 page catalogue was produced for the 53 lots of New Zealand and International Fine Art to go under the hammer in their Parnell auction rooms on 11 August. A good crowd of around 75 people were in attendance with the Director of Art, Sophie Coupland, taking the rostrum to conduct the sale.

For the first of the fine art sales to come out under the ''newly minted'' Mossgreen-Webb's brand, an extensive and expensive 132 page catalogue was produced for the 53 lots of New Zealand and International Fine Art to go under the hammer in their Parnell auction rooms on 11 August. Star of the show was a small format undated oil of Kapi Kapi an Arawa Chiefteness (above) by Charles F, Goldie which sold for the upper estimate of $300,000 on the night and received a round of applause from those in the room.

After a brief preamble, the sale got underway.with Joke, (Lot 1 ) a ''deer little painting'' by Michael Harrison selling for $4,200 against an estimate of $3,000- $4,000, while lot 2 an interesting work entitled Camowhaiwhai (Lot 2 ) by Andrew McLeod was not so lucky being sold subject to the vendors approval.

This was to be the pattern for the sale with 26 of the lots on offer being sold under the hammer, 22 lots sold subject to vendors approval, and 5 lots not attracting any bids at all.

A number of the key headline lots found new owners, but there were an equal number which simply failed to ignite the local buyers in a pretty saturated market place, with clearly a few key collectors still in hibernation.

Star of the show wasn't the brace of McCahon's unsigned late period Gannet paintings or the pair of exquisitely framed Frances Hodgkin's oil paintings recently repatriated from the U.S.A. but a small format 24.5 by 19.5 cm undated oil of Kapi Kapi an Arawa Chiefteness (Lot 17 ) by Charles F, Goldie which sold for the upper estimate of $300,000 on the night and received a round of applause from the people in the room.

The large 1973 Don Binney oil of Te Henga from the Razor Back (Lot 15 ) from the Joy Marchant Collection in Sydney, repatriated by Mossgreen, sold well for $130,000 exceeding the top end of the estimate by $10,000, while a small signed Colin McCahon charcoal drawing from 1971, Muruwai, High Wind and Rain, (Lot 14 ) sold very well at $46,000, again exceeding the top end of the estimate by $1,000 this time.

It was clear that the two large format oils of Frances Hodgkin were not to be returned to the vendors and were both knocked down to the highest bidder on the night, with Ibiza (Lot 18 ) selling for $205,000 and River Boats (Lot 19 ) selling for a somewhat disappointing $190,000. Each work had a pre-sale estimate of $230,000 - $330,000.

The two late period monochromatic works on paper by Colin McCahon which graced the front and back covers of the catalogue and had extensive coverage in the catalogue, precipitated a somewhat lukewarm response on the night. Gannets Leaving Muriwai (Lot 22 ) and Dance of the Gannets (Lot 23 ) were a ''pigeon pair'' of paintings both with estimates of $160,000 - $200,000. Bidding for lot 22 started at $120,000 rising to $130,000 and lot 23 attracting only a maiden bid of $120,000 as a consequence both lots were knocked down subject to vendor approval.

It was not a night for the gannets but two medium format gold toned silver gelatin prints of the extinct huia (Lot 6 ) by Fiona Pardington sold very well, realising $27,000 against an estimate of $10,000 - $15,000 for the pair.

In closing, I must admit I was quite surprised to see that lot 30, a medium sized 1984 work on paper by the top selling artist Don Binney was wrongly catalogued as being ''Queen Victoria'' when in actual fact it was King George III..... tut tut.

The total for the Mossgreen-Webb's sale was similar to the 'on the night' total for the Art + Object sale last week, with both returning totals of about $1.2 million exclusive of buyer's premium

 

All prices shown are in New Zealand dollars.

Sale Referenced: Important Paintings & Contemporary Art, Mossgreen-Webb's (formerly Webb's), Auckland, 11/08/2016

About The Author

John Perry is known locally as a collector / consultant / curator/ educator and artist and is a former director of the Rotorua Museum of Art and History. For the last 20 years has worked as an antique dealer specializing in ''man made and natural curiosities'' from an old art deco cinema on the outskirts of Auckland. Over the last 16 years he has developed a multi million dollar collection of 19th and 20th century artworks for the Rotorua Energy Charitable Trust. He recently donated 120 artworks from his collection in various media to the East Southland Art Gallery in Gore. A committed ''art o holic'' he continues to develop collections of New Zealand and International fine art / folk art / ceramics and photography for future usage in a private/public ARTMUSEEUM of NEWSEELAND, not to be confused with Te Papa Museum of New Zealand.

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