By Richard Brewster, on 18-Apr-2023

Italian neoclassical painter Fabio Fabbi (1861-1946) – recognised as the last of the Orientalists – scooped the pool with his work entitled Egyptian Street Scene (lot 47) which sold for $80,000 ($30,000 above its high catalogue estimate) at Melbourne-based Gibson’s Auctions Australian & International art sale on April 16. Born in Bologna and trained at Florence’s Academy of Fine Art, in 1866 Fabbi journeyed to Egypt to join his brother Alberto where he revelled in the exotic scenery, tastes, colours and scents that later influenced his paintings.

As expected, Italian neoclassical painter Fabio Fabbi (1861-1946)  achieved the highest price at Gibson’s Auctions Australian & International art sale on April 16 with his  work entitled Egyptian Street Scene (lot 47) which sold for $80,000, $30,000 above its high catalogue estimate.

The painting has been in a private Brisbane collection since its 1950s purchase and the strong sale price might be indicative of the heightened interest in Fabbi’s works since the recent discovery of his lost journals describing his Egyptian journeys.

Leading Australian colonial landscape painter Walter Withers (1854-1914) – part of the Robert Law collection handed down through three generations and whose paintings have never before been exposed to the secondary market – was another strong performer with his work entitled Coastal Farm (lot 142) going under the hammer for $32,000, $7000 above its high catalogue estimate.

The same result was achieved for iconic Australian indigenous artist Emily Kame Kngwarreye’s (c1909-1996) My Country circa 1994 (lot 117).

Popular artist Deborah Halpin’s Cheshire Cat 2015 (lot 115) brought $17,000, comfortably within its $15,000-$25,000 catalogue estimate, while Sidney Nolan (1917-1992) popped up with Girl + Horse 1941 (lot 9) for $11,000.

This painting, an oil on hessian on board housed in a private London collection, was a gift from Nolan to the present owner’s father.

Another Australian indigenous artist Turkey Tolson Tjupurrula (1938-2001) featured in the top 10 results with Two Women Travelling at Puja (lot 177) that sold for $10,000.

David Boyd’s (1924-2011) A Moment of Inspiration 1998 (lot 12) achieved a creditable $9000 while Charles Rolando (1884-1893) Beside the Campfire (lot 32) was not far short at $8500 on a $3000-$5000 estimate – the same as another Nolan painting Harbour and Boat 1942 (lot 86). 

Dutch artist Arnold Marc Gorter (1866-1933) and Geoffrey Dyer (1947-2020) each achieved $8000 for their respective works Early Spring Landscape in the Netherlands (lot 41) and The Changing Climate 2013 (lot 83).


About The Author

Richard Brewster has been writing about the antiques and art auction industry for almost 25 years, first in a regular weekly column for Fairfax's The Age newspaper and also in more recent times for his own website Australian Auction Review. With over 50 years experience as a journalist and public relations consultant, in 1990 Richard established his own business Brewster & Associates in Melbourne, handling a wide range of clients in the building, financial, antiques and art auction industries.