Smith & Singer

Australian & International Art

Tiny William Dobell Portrait on Cardboard Listed for $80,000 sells for Almost $1 million

10 April 2019

ABC News  |  Michaela Boland

A mystery buyer has paid nearly $1 million for a tiny portrait listed for $80,000 at a Sydney art sale, drawing gasps in the auction room as bidding soared.

Jeffrey Smart Painting Released to Auction to Establish Future Acquisition Fund

3 November 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.’

A Unique Impression of St Kilda

9 November 2015

Painted in 1907, St Kilda Pier (1907) by Arthur Streeton is a highly impressionistic composition which perfectly captures the sunlight and breezy scene of ocean, shoreline and sailing boats, together with the men, women and children as they promenade on the pier.  The colours are bright and fresh, a celebration of Streeton’s re-acquaintance with the Australian light after a period of living in Europe the previous decade.

Held in the same private collection since 1919, St Kilda Pier (1907) (estimate $50,000-70,000, lot 29) was originally acquired directly from the artist by Sir Walter Baldwin Spencer – Streeton’s greatest patron.  Last offered for auction in 1919 it was purchased by the present owner’s ancestors for 22 gns. 

One of Australia’s greatest collectors and patrons, Sir Walter Baldwin Spencer is best known for his considerable legacy to Australian anthropology; however, he traversed several disciplines of art, ethnography and science.  He was a trustee of the combined National Gallery of Victoria, Museum Victoria and State Library of Victoria from 1884-1928, and actively promoted the acquisition of historical and contemporary Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australian Art into Australia’s repositories.  As a passionate collector of Australian contemporary art, Spencer was Arthur Streeton’s greatest patron, at one time owning 41 works by the artist.  In August 2015 Sotheby’s Australia sold 4 works from the Spencer Collection that achieved exceptional results, including Unloading Bricks, Kew (1905) for $122,000 against an estimate of $30,000-40,000.

Geoffrey Smith, Chairman of Sotheby’s Australia commented: ‘St Kilda Pier is a unique image in the artist’s career and has not been seen in public for almost half a century.  Included in the Sir Arthur Streeton Survey exhibition at the Adelaide Festival of Arts in March 1968, it was simply titled The Pier, its exact location unidentified.  Through my research for the Arthur Streeton 1867-1943 Catalogue Raisonné, I was able to reinstate the painting with its original title, as well as full provenance and exhibition history.’

>View lot

>View e-Catalogue

St Kilda Pier (1907)
oil on wood panel
18.5 x 24 cm
Estimate $50,000-70,000

Page 3 of 3     « Prev 123

We use our own and third party cookies to enable you to navigate around our Site, use its features and engage on social media, and to allow us to perform analytics, remember your preferences, provide services that you have requested and produce content and advertisements tailored to your interests, both on our Site as well as others. For more information, or to learn how to change your cookie or marketing preferences, please see our updated Privacy Policy & Cookie Policy.

By continuing to use our Site, you consent to our use of cookies and to the practices described in our updated Privacy Policy.