By John Furphy, on 27-Apr-2017

Specialists at Deutscher and Hackett are expecting a new auction record for Lin Onus when a monumental work by the artist comes up for sale in Sydney on 10 May.

Riddle of the Koi, 1994 (lot 10) was released from the artist's estate in 2016 for a touring exhibition when it was bought by a private collector in Sydney. Its return to the market also marks its auction debut.

The painting is one of Onus' celebrated and highly-prized 'watery landscapes', though one of the few that seem so obviously inspired by his residency in Yokohama in 1989 - with the inclusion of the wonderfully decorative 'Koi' fish so prevalent in Japanese garden ponds.

At 2 x 4 metres the diptych is a major work, rich in detail and immensely appealing. With an estimate of $450,000-650,000 the work will likely sell for more than the artist's current auction record as recorded by the Australian Art Sales Digest, set in 2015 by Frogs on Waterlilies (which is one quarter the size of the current work) from the David Clarke Collection at Sotheby's Australia for $512,400 IBP.

Specialists at Deutscher and Hackett are expecting a new auction record for Lin Onus when a monumental work by the artist comes up for sale in Sydney on 10 May. 'Riddle of the Koi', 1994 was released from the artist's estate in 2016 for a touring exhibition when it was bought by a private collector in Sydney. Its return to the market also marks its auction debut.

Deutscher and Hackett's May sale represents the auction house's 10th Anniversary and will also include key works by Fred Williams, Rosalie Gascoigne, Arthur Boyd, Justin O'Brien, Norman Lindsay and Brett Whiteley.

Starting the auction is an early watercolour by Jeffrey Smart, Kapunda Church, 1946 (Lot 1 ) followed by one of the artists earliest known oil paintings, Zinnias, 1940 (Lot 2 ).

The latter is accompanied by a charming story within its remarkably concise provenance – according to the family from which the painting has descended; it came about as the result of a dare from its original owner, Barbara Woodward, a close friend of Smart's. She bet the 19 year old artist that he couldn't paint her a 'nice picture of flowers' to which he responded that he wouldn't do it, even if she paid him. Sometime later Smart returns to his friend with this painting declaring 'stop whinging, here, you can have these thirteen zinnias for 13 "guinnias"'.

The same amount won't quite cut it for the work's resale however. For its first appearance on the market in 77 years it has been estimated to achieve between $25,000-35,000.

Twelve lots (12 to 24) from the collection of Gene and Brian Sherman include significant works by William Delafield Cook, John Olsen, Imants Tillers, Tim Storrier and Shaun Gladwell.

Storrier's Evening (Flowers for Nancy), 1993 (Lot 16 ) was illustrated on the cover of the first exhibition the artist held at Sherman Galleries in 1994. The subject matter is an unusual one for the artist - akin to a dark, unsettling still life, though 'disquietingly beautiful' as the catalogue rightly states. The 2.4x3 metre canvas was also included in the retrospective exhibition, Elemental Reckoning, held at S.H. Ervin Gallery in 2011 and carries estimates of $200,000-300,000 for its first appearance at auction.

A strong selection of Australian Indigenous art (lots 43 to 46 and 72 to 81) includes works by Johnny Warangkula Tjupurrula, Rover Thomas, Paddy Bedford, Emily Kngwarreye, Albert Namatjira and Bill Whiskey.

Many notable pieces of sculpture are spread throughout the sale by the likes of Bronwyn Oliver, Robert Klippel, Clement Meadmore and Bertram MacKennal.

The international component is made up of pieces by American artists Tony Oursler, Paul McCarthy and Chuck Close, British artist Lucian Freud and sculptor Lyn Chadwick as well as NZ favourites Colin McCahon and Shane Cotton.

The total of the estimates for the 132 lots of Important Australian & International Fine Art is between $4.3 to 6.2 million.

Sale Referenced: Important Australian & International Fine Art, Deutscher and Hackett , Sydney, 10/05/2017

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