LONDON.-The first ever European auction of Modern and Contemporary Australian Art with works by New Zealand and South African artists was held on 12 December 2007 at Christie's in London and totalled £3,334,125 / AUD$7,721,834 with 85% sold by value.
Leading the sale and appearing at auction for the first time was Frederick McCubbin's iconic Sawing Timber, 1907 which sold for £731,700 / AUD$1,694,6177 to an anonymous buyer. Unseen by the public for over one hundred years, the painting was offered by the family of Louis Abrahams, a close friend of McCubbin and fellow artist Arthur Streeton. A world record was also established for any South African painting with Irma Stern's (1894-1966), Congolese Woman, 1946 which sold for £569,300 / 7.7m ZAR.
Nicholas Lambourn, Head of Sale commented: From McCubbins Impressionist masterpiece to iconic works by the great Post-War masters such as Nolan and Blackman, the inaugural London sale of Modern and Contemporary Australian Art included many works not seen in public for a generation or more. These lost treasures of Australian art attracted fierce competition and saw prices soar over pre-sale estimates. We were especially thrilled with the strong price for McCubbins Sawing Timber, and the two classic 1950s Blackmans, all selling two or three times over estimates. In the South African section Irma Sterns 1946 masterpiece smashed the record auction price for this leading 20th century South African artist and for any South African picture at auction. We look forward to our next sale in December 2008.