By Charlotte Stanes, on 07-Sep-2016

Menzies Art Brands will auction 289 lots of art over two evenings on 21 and 22 September including the final stock-in-trade auction of legendary art dealer, Denis Savill.

Monumental works by Brett Whiteley have a habit of turning up at the Menzies saleroom and two particularly epic but disparate examples are expecting to draw the highest prices on Night One: one a haunting and emotionally charged allegory of Paul Gauguin, the other a tranquil scene depicting a bird before a rising sun and seascape.  Both command serious attention and an equally serious amount of wall space.

Monumental works by Brett Whiteley have a habit of turning up at the Menzies saleroom and two particularly epic but disparate examples are expecting to draw the highest prices on the first night of the two-part sale on 21 September in Melbourne. 'The Sunrise, Japanese: Good Morning!' 1988 has returned to the saleroom pre-sale estimates of $1.4 to 1.8 million, having been previously sold by Menzies in 2012 for $1.32 million. The sale is expected raise around $8.3 million over the two evenings.

Returning to the market is Gauguin (also known as Paul Gauguin on the Eve of his Attempted Suicide, Tahiti) 1968 (Lot 37 ) which was sold by the notorious Chelsea Hotel in New York in 2014.  The work was painted during Whiteley’s turbulent years in New York in the late 1960s and was given as part-payment for his stay at the hotel.  Bought by Rod Menzies and sold again for a tidy profit soon after it was brought to Australia, the rare and intense work is back in the Menzies saleroom and carrying a price tag of $1,600,000-2,000,000.

The Sunrise, Japanese: Good Morning!  1988 (Lot 36 ) has also returned to the saleroom and with pre-sale estimates of $1,400,000-1,800,000.  Previously sold by Menzies in 2012 for $1.32 million, the vast, serene seascape of lush blues is an extremely appealing example of Whiteley’s popular bird studies.  The 244 x 204.5cm canvas was painted following his first trip to Japan in the autumn of 1988 and is all peace, beauty and respite in contrast to the angst of his New York experience.

Compared with the recent impressive result for a smaller Whiteley work of similar theme, The Robin and the Moon 1981 (at Sotheby’s Australia which sold for $1,098,000 including Buyer’s Premium) this bird looks to be well priced and should fly.

The auction catalogue notes that each of these works, and the 13 other Whiteley works on paper, lithographs and etchings listed, are to be included in Kathie Sutherland’s forthcoming catalogue raisonné for the artist.

An enormous painting by Arthur Boyd entitled Large Kneeling Figure with Canvas and Black Can 1973 (Lot 38 ) will also draw a lot of interest.  At 315 x 433cm this painting is a much (much) larger version of a work with the same title in the collection of the National Gallery of Australia.  The smaller example was also part of the recent major exhibition, Arthur Boyd: Agony & Ecstasy held at the NGA in 2014. 

This larger work is completely fresh to the market, having been painted at Boyd’s rural property in Suffolk, UK and then passed down by descent from the artist.  With conservative estimates of $300,000-400,000, it will be interesting to see where this one ends up.

Night Two will see the final dispersal of the stock-in-trade of Savill Galleries.  These 160 lots are the entire contents of Denis Savill’s gallery and stockroom at Woollahra and reportedly the last Savill-branded auction the ubiquitous dealer is planning to hold.  Therefore, it would appear to be the end of an era for a man who has been an authoritative force at major art auctions since the early 1980s.

Though by no means completely out of the game, Savill plans to continue downsizing and will close his Paddington gallery at the end of this year.  He will hold onto, and no doubt continue to build on, his own extensive private collection.

The collection offered for sale features works by Arthur Boyd, Charles Blackman, Ray Crooke, Sidney Nolan, Brett Whiteley, Garry Shead, Donald Friend and many other fine examples from the colonial, impressionist, modern and contemporary eras.

Altogether Menzies is expecting to achieve around $8.3 million across the two evening auctions.

Sale Referenced: Australian & International Fine Art & Sculpture , Menzies, Melbourne, 21/09/2016

About The Author

Charlotte Stanes has worked the Australian auction industry from the ground up, starting in 1998 as an auction assistant at Christie’s before moving into marketing management at Bonhams & Goodman, Sotheby’s Australia and most recently at Mossgreen. Charlotte is now a marketing consultant and writer, based in Melbourne.