By Richard Brewster, on 05-Jun-2023

Eighty-six per cent of the 1383 lots on offer sold by volume with the surprise being a Papua New Guinea carved wooden ancestral spiritual figure (lot 1099) collected by Australian ex-pat John Lean Pender, who lived there during the 1930s and returned to Australia in 1942 following the Japanese invasion.  Listed in the catalogue with a $250-$350 estimate, it brought a staggering $32,265.


Led by Theodore Penleigh Boyd’s (1880-1923) Manly (Lot 1161 ), which sold for $48,000 (including buyer’s premium), Australian paintings and tribal artefacts dominated the top 10 results at Leski Auctions Australian & Historical sale on May 27 and 28 in Melbourne.


Criss Canning’s Passion Flowers, 1991 (Lot 1265 ) sold for the same figure, while Arthur Streeton’s (1867-1943) work Hollyhocks (Lot 1175 ) changed hands for $29,875.

Gold is always an auction favourite and an impressive Australian nugget weighing 296 grams (lot 538) brought $28,680.


Two tribal masks, also from Pender’s PNG collection, finished sixth among the top 10 lots – again with a massive $23,900 result on the paltry $250-$350 estimate.

Iconic First Nations artists Albert Namatjira (1902-1959) watercolour entitled Macdonnell Range Central Australia (lot 1267a) showed a $15,535 return while several other Australian gold nugget specimens totalling 158.5 grams (lot 545) brought $13,800.

The sole piece of furniture to feature in the top 10 was William Hamilton’s (1796-1885) important circa 1845 colonial Australian cedar wine table (lot 565) which sold for $13,800.  A cabinetmaker based in Hobart, Hamilton was active from 1832 in Tasmania and his works feature a “centurion’s skirt” apron and scroll feet.

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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.