Discovery & Celebration

John Coburn NAB Art Collection Leonard Joel Auctions

One of the enduring themes of an auction house and what, for me, makes our world endlessly rewarding, are the moments of discovery. Perhaps not discovery in the exact sense every time, but certainly the revelation of something that is extraordinary, or a collection long separated from the public’s gaze.

JEFFREY SMART, Fine Art at Leonard Joel Auctions
JEFFREY SMART (1921–2013)
E.U.R. II 1965
oil on board
65.5 x 80cm
$250,000 – 350,000
© The Estate of Jeffrey Smart

Three such occasions present over the next two months, from the very personal to the very public.

As this article is published, an online-only auction (as contemporary as an auction type gets) will shortly conclude the dispersal of a most beautifully decorated Double Bay residence; one that reflects with every object and every furnishing an unashamed celebration of a traditional taste, realised with the keen eye of the late Stuart Rattle. Here we celebrate taste, home, and decoration, and while there are no $100,000 treasures within this collection, it is still just as much fun to celebrate.

At the other end of the spectrum lies Important Works from the NAB Art Collection, a collection that has largely been hidden from the public for almost half a century. The collection is extraordinary in its diversity, with works from the traditional periods through to the modern and contemporary periods, as well as some extraordinary tapestries commissioned to represent several important Australian artists. The catalogue cover is graced by one of my favourite artists, the rare-to-market, hyperrealist William Delafield Cook. Offered for public auction for the first time, it is now everyone’s second and final opportunity to enjoy the collection during its public viewing, (the first being the 1982 National Gallery of Victoria exhibition The Seventies: Australian Paintings and Tapestries from the Collection of the National Australia Bank), accompanied with the opportunity to acquire a work with a provenance that, as I would say, is perfect.

Leonard Joel Auctions
(born 1957)
Nefertiti 1999
ceramic tiles on fibreglass and steel
81 x 36 x 63cm (excl. base)
$5,000 – 7,000

And finally, between the very personal Sydney residence and the grand corporate collection lies undoubtedly an important art world discovery of 2022, and that is Jeffrey Smart’s E.U.R. II from 1965. The work revealed itself to our Sydney specialists before Christmas and it is one that has largely remained unseen for the last 57 years. It’s rediscovery and recording will further enhance the catalogue raisonné of this important Australian artist.

From the great value to the more modest, we are honoured to be offering all of these collections over this Summer-Autumn period, and we look forward to gathering with you at all our viewings in the weeks to come.

JOHN ALBRECHT / Chairman / Head of Important Collections

Banner Image: JOHN COBURN(1925-2006) Arabian Sun 1976 (detail), wool tapestry. $30,000 – 40,000

February 2022