By Jane Raffan, on 18-Feb-2011

And they are hoping to make a splash. The 23 February Quarterly Fine Art Auction carries a pre-sale estimate of $1.5–2.1 million. Given all the major houses have scheduled their sales well beyond the March 26 NSW state election, Lawson’s will be looking to catch the attention of collectors itching to spend after the summer hiatus.

The 322 works on offer span all genres, with sale highlights firmly situated in the Modern and Contemporary offering.

Amongst the top lots are three fresh works by Sidney Nolan from the Estate of Lady Nolan through a private collection: Bather from 1975 (Lot 25 ), est.$16,000-20,000; an interesting work from his Baptism series (Lot 37 ), est.$25,000-35,000, and a still life, Flowers IV, 1977 (Lot 43 ), est.$25,000-35,000. A fourth work, Ayers Rock (Lot 30 ), will likely also have broad appeal at $20,000-30,000, having been in private hands since 1998.

Two other 1970s works from across the conceptual divide make notable highlights:

A rare Ken Unsworth 3D piece from his Suspended Stone series (Lot 45 ) is on offer at $16,000-18,000. A sale at low end will see a new record for the artist at auction.

And if the results from Joel’s December Hogarth Galleries sale are any indication, Richard Larter’s pulp fiction-esque take on NSW politics, crime and corruption in the Wran era, Untitled, 1979 (Lot 125 ) should lure strong competition at $9,000-14,000.

A few of the major lots are on the market again with reasonable expectations after gaps of two to five years, including John Perceval’s small but striking Still Life, Flowers, 1937 (Lot 42 ) est.$12,000-16,000, which carries exhibition provenance from the artist’s retrospective held at the NGV and AGNSW in 1992. Also Margaret Olley’s Wooden Horses (Lot 27 ); Charles Blackman’s Portrait of Barbara (Lot 31 ), John Olsen’s Salt Pans (Lot 36 ), Fred Williams’ Upwey Landscape (Lot 32 ) and John Coburn’s Indian Journey, 1976 (Lot 29 ).

Amongst the Indigenous art is a group of works bearing Galleries Direct provenance, a former trading entity of the failed art investment group Smith & Hall. Stay tuned to the AASD over the coming weeks for an update on the Smith & Hall fallout, including the Administrator’s activities and court action.

Sale Referenced:

About The Author

Jane Raffan runs ArtiFacts, an art services consultancy based in Sydney. Jane is an accredited valuer for the Australian government’s highly vetted Cultural Gifts Program, and Vice President of the Auctioneers & Valuers Association of Australia. Jane’s experience spans more 20 years working in public and commercial art sectors, initially with the AGNSW, and then over twelve years in the fine art auction industry. Her consultancy focuses on collection management, advisory services and valuations. She is the author of Power + Colour: New Painting from the Corrigan Collection of Aboriginal Art.