The Legacy of One of Australia’s Most Celebrated Corporate Art Collections


Collating a meaningful and diverse corporate art collection is no small feat. It requires a considered team of curators and advisors, a clear vision, and patience. In the 1970s the National Australia Bank set forth on a mission to develop one of Australia’s most comprehensive and representative corporate art collections that celebrates the diversity and depth of modern Australian artistic vision. 

An Art Committee was formed in 1975 to bring the vision to fruition. Respected Melbourne gallerist Georges Mora was hired as their art consultant, sourcing Australian paintings, sculpture and tapestries from some of the country’s most renowned contemporary artists of the time, as well as some that were only just emerging on the art scene. 

The collection took on such a profile, that the National Gallery of Victoria organised an exhibition in 1982 dedicated to key works in their stable. The Seventies: Australian Paintings and Tapestries From the Collection of the National Australia Bank was exhibited from 15 October – 28 November 1982, and 29 of the works featured are to be sold in our February auction.  

Key artworks from the 1970s to be sold in our February auction include:

LESLEY DUMBRELL (born 1941) Snakes and Ladders 1979. NAB Art Collection. Leonard Joel Auctions
Snakes and Ladders 1979
synthetic polymer paint and Liquitex on canvas
182.5 x 243cm
$15,000 – 20,000

Lesley Dumbrell, Snakes and Ladders 1979, synthetic polymer paint and Liquitex on canvas (Estimate: $15,000-20,000)

A premium example of the artist’s refined linear abstraction, which was later produced as a tapestry, also included in
the sale.

Ray Crooke, Boundary Rider, Palmer River Country, North Queensland c.1970, oil on canvas laid on board (Estimate: $30,000-50,000)

An impressive large scale work that represents our connection to the Australian landscape in all its vast expanse.  

John Peart, Rough Cut 1974, synthetic polymer paint on canvas (Estimate: $12,000-18,000)

Peart was one of Australia’s most significant abstract artists, and this richly coloured and textured painting speaks of the artist’s dedication to lyrical abstraction.

In addition, we will be presenting an important collection of tapestries commissioned from the Victorian Tapestry Workshop for NAB, including John Coburn’s Arabian Sun 1976, wool tapestry (Estimate: $30,000-40,000).

WILLIAM DELAFIELD COOK (1936–2015) A Hedge 1974. NAB Art Collection. Leonard Joel Auctions
A Hedge 1974 (detail) 
synthetic polymer paint on canvas
82.5 x 199.5cm
$40,000 – 60,000

For a number of decades, National Australia Bank have displayed over 2000 of these artworks in their premises around Australia. However, the bank has decided that the time has come to sell the vast majority of their Australian art collection and reinvest all funds back into the community via the work of the NAB Foundation which also contributes to their NAB Ready Together program to supports Australians before, during and after natural disasters. These important works will once again be available for public exhibition and enable us to revisit some of our most accomplished and significant artists both past and present. 

Leonard Joel is thrilled to be presenting Important Works from the NAB Art Collection in February 2022, followed by a suite of auctions to present the remainder of the collection.

OLIVIA FULLER / Head of Fine Art

Banner Image: WILLIAM DELAFIELD COOK (1936–2015) A Hedge 1974 (detail) , synthetic polymer paint on canvas, 82.5 x 199.5cm. $40,000 – 60,000

February 2022