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Quality, Not Quantity, Wins Out at Sotheby’s Australian Art Auction

Sotheby’s sale of Australian art on Sept. 19 took in A$4.2 million ($3.2 million), despite a marked decrease in the number of works offered. The house presented just 59 lots, compared with a more typical offering of more than 200.

NEW YORK—Sotheby’s sale of Australian art on Sept. 19 took in A$4.2 million ($3.2 million), despite a marked decrease in the number of works offered. The house presented just 59 lots, compared with a more typical offering of more than 200.

A number of high six-figure results for works that were fresh to the market contributed to the success of the sale. The auction’s top price was A$703,000 ($535,875), given for the Arthur Boyd (1920-1999) painting Bride Walking in a Creek I, 1959 (estimate: A$600,000/800,000).

A Eugene von Guerard (1811-1901) work, Aboriginal Group near Geelong also sold well, fetching A$645,500 ($492,045) against an estimated A$250,000/450,000. A picture by Frederick McCubbin (1855-1917), Labouring in the Bush, sold within estimate for A$376,500 against an estimated A$340,000/420,000.

The Siesta, circa 1906, was sold for A$294,250 ($224,297) against an estimate of A$250,000/350,000. The oil-on-pulpboard by Rupert Bunny (1864-1947), one of Australia’s best-known artists, depicts a woman in a loose-flowing “tea gown” sleeping in an elegantly furnished Victorian-style bedroom. According to the Sotheby’s catalog, “the theme of beautiful women at leisure brought Bunny particular acclaim in the early years of the twentieth century.”

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