The James Fairfax Collection of Decorative Arts sells for $1.74 million
Art & Sculpture 6 Jul 2013Modern + Traditional – Old and New Curated by David Bromley The Stock in Trade of Brighton Antiques
The very personal collection of the Late Richard A. Young, Proprietor and Founder of Koala Koaches, Queensland.
When I first met one of Richard’s nine children I was taken by how fondly he seemed to be remembered by his family and how important it was to them that his special art collection be dealt with in a manner that befitted their love and esteem for him. So often as an auctioneer collections are absent a “back story” but when they do present like in this case it gives the collection and its viewing so much more meaning and a rich history that threads it.
The first thing one notices about the collection is its unpretentiousness – Richard clearly loved art, found special meaning in subject matter and selected works based on how he responded to them rather than what cache they might have held – so many of the paintings reminded him of moments in his well travelled and quintessentially Australian journey. A simple example of this was the pleasure he derived from the modern impressionist Rick Everingham who so competently renders figurative scenes with a softness and beauty. This love of impressionism is also evident in the French period Rupert Bunny he acquired in his later years which to me confirmed his confidence in ensuring his collection ranged between new and old artists with subject matter and quality always driving the selection process rather than the collecting of a “signature” to impress.
Within the collection are also four works by Robert Dickerson and two particularly striking works with gold leaf ground that appear less often these days at auction. I would imagine that Richard would have enjoyed the structure and certainty of these works; something that Dickerson always delivered.
As one moves through the collection the pleasure in observing such an eclectic mix of artists continues and just when you believe you have a traditional landscape collection you are surprised to discover a beautiful Lindsay pencil drawing, a striking Ray Crooke and a very fine Albert Namatjira watercolour. It is clear that Richard’s collecting took him far and wide and it was not uncommon for him to visit the southern state salerooms when he left his home state of Queensland to find a work of art that reminded him of a childhood moment, a period in his hard working life or an area he spent time in as a young boy. He would delight in bringing his family up to speed on his latest addition to the collection and why it grabbed him. Indeed there was something of the traveller in Richard who without doubt lived one of those great mid-century Australian stories – big family, hard working, lots of moving around and a commitment to always appreciate the small mercies and to pursue every opportunity that a rapidly growing Australia presented to those with enthusiasm, a good mind and a fierce work ethic.
Reading the family stories presented to me revealed just how much Richard was part of an emergent Australia and how in so many ways he lived the Australian 20th century and how much travelling he experienced as a youngster and as an adult. Working in the dairy sector from a young age, avoiding the polio epidemic of 1936 and taking on multiple supplementary jobs as so many did. Never knocking back an opportunity when it presented itself were hallmarks of Richard’s life.
This work ethic that imbued his life found its moment when he founded Koala Koaches bus services in Queensland more than half a century ago and it is clear that this family run business was respected and extremely well run with “no corners cut”. As it grew and evolved it reflected the burgeoning and changing population trends of Queensland in the 1960s, 70s and 80s. Richard, Koala Koaches and his extensive family had become in every sense part of a successful Queensland with a lot of warmth and local community concern thrown in!
Now back to the collection. Amongst the finer period paintings, not to mention the dramatic Arthur Streeton Roses, Golden Emblem, lies what we call “a jewel of a work” by the Heidelberg School artist John Ford Patterson. If one of the paintings in the collection must be described as monumental this would be the one and it depicts the often rendered scene of Rickett’s Point (illustrated) along outer Melbourne’s coastline. The classic sway of the tee trees, the ocean and the park-like foreground mark it as classic early 20th century Australian impressionist subject matter and I wondered why this painting in this collection? It seemed like the special one and for no clear reason. Then I read further through the family history that revealed that this was where Richard as a child would enjoy family picnics and as it happened the love of his life did too, his wife of 59 years Louise.
I never met Richard but it makes perfect sense to me that his major acquisition was something that brought him back to childhood memories in a fashion he could link to his dear wife. This is when the collection becomes individualised and very personal for the auctioneer and it is a rare privilege now to be entrusted with the story and the collection.
John Albrecht for Leonard Joel
Leonard Joel will be offering this single-owner collection auction in Melbourne on July 7th 2013. For all enquiries please contact our senior art specialist Nicole Salvo 03 8825 5624 firstname.lastname@example.org
John Ford Paterson (1851 – 1912)
Rickett’s point, Victoria 1908
oil on canvas
signed and dated ‘J.Paterson 1908’ lower left
67.5 x 140.5cm
Leonard Joel is honoured to announce its appointment by the executors to manage this historic...