In 1952, a chest containing a lot of paintings by Australian impressionists Emanuel Phillips Fox and Ethel Carrick Fox was auctioned. No one was interested. The auctioneer ended up buying them for a pittance.
This weekend, they are auctioned again, at Leonard Joel. This time, expectations are very different: sold separately, the 40 paintings have estimated values of up to $ 15,000.
And their creators, a team of husband and wife artists who fell victim to our old cultural crisis (plus a pinch of sexism), are now seen as pioneers in the development of Australian art and key players in it. influential Heidelberg School.
It was the astute auctioneer Graham Joel, son of auction house founder Leonard, who bought them 70 years ago when the Carrick Fox estate was sold. “Back then, they weren’t evaluated as individual objects, they just had to be erased,” says Olivia Fuller, art manager at Leonard Joel (the Joel family is no longer involved in the business).
Fuller says it’s probably the paintings, some created outside in Europe, will exceed estimates. “They’ve been out of the market for so long and both artists are now very acclaimed,” she says.
Australian art is selling exceptionally well at the moment, thanks to COVID and the lack of access to international art exhibitions and fairs.
The 40 works offered by this original auction range from portraits to rugged seascapes. “There are some very special stand-alone paintings, some have had a public presence through books and only one has been on display in public,” Fuller said. “But they were not available for purchase.”
In addition to the stand-alone works, a number of smaller works or studies provide insight into the artist’s processes, which may explain why Carrick Fox kept them.