Smith & Singer

Jeffrey Smart Painting Released to Auction to Establish Future Acquisition Fund

November 3, 2016

Sotheby’s Australia has been entrusted with the sale of Jeffrey Smart’s The Two-Up Game (Portrait of Ermes de Zan) (2006) (estimate $500,000-700,000, lot 48).  Consigned by the TarraWarra Museum of Art, the painting will be auctioned on 23 November, with funds raised to establish a future acquisition fund.

Panoramic or extended lateral compositions form a distinct and significant sub-group of paintings within the oeuvre of Jeffery Smart.  The Two-Up Game (Portrait of Ermes de Zan) relates closely to a series of ‘container’ compositions from 1990 that depict corrugated structures of various colours at the Italian port city of Livorno, on the west coast of Tuscany.  The central placement of the figure, Smart’s life partner Ermes de Zan, successfully expresses the feeling of social, even existential displacement that is so much a part of the culture of late capitalism.

Geoffrey Smith, Chairman of Sotheby’s Australia commented: ‘The de-acquisition of a painting by a collecting institution is not entered into lightly.  TarraWarra Museum of Art has given careful consideration regarding the sale of The Two-Up Game (Portrait of Ermes de Zan), assessing the work in the context of the existing collection and future acquisitions.  The museum and its founding benefactors, Eva Besen AO and Marc Besen AC, are long-term supporters of Jeffrey Smart.  The museum holds an additional ten major paintings by Smart donated by Eva and Marc Besen.  In addition, the Besens also provided the funds for Smart’s largest composition, Container Train in a Landscape (1983-1984, Arts Centre Melbourne), that has become one of the most beloved and admired of all of the artist’s works.  We look forward to assisting the museum in achieving the optimum result for their future acquisition fund.’

Victoria Lynn, Director of TarraWarra Museum of Art commented: ‘While we are saddened to let go of such a wonderful Jeffrey Smart painting, our aim of establishing a fund for the future acquisition of major works of modern and contemporary Australian art will provide the Museum with long term opportunities to enhance our outstanding collection of Australian art.’


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