In a futile attempt at participating in the current cultural revolution, I tried to suffer ‘harm and offence’ from an art catalogue. But it seems I’m no good at this revolutionary business because I only derived pleasure from the catalogue of Important Australian & International Art of works to be auctioned by Smith & Singer (formerly Sotheby’s Australia) on 24 June.
The painting featured on the cover is a particular delight; it is Laughing Child (1958) by John Brack. Coming to the market for the first time since it was acquired from its original exhibition at Australian Galleries, Melbourne in 1958. The re- emergence of this enchanting work is an important addition to the knowledge of Brack’s output.
There is so much of interest in this exhibition. On the theme of childhood there is A Village Boy (1899) by Sir George Clausen but not even Kevin Rudd could take offence. Great expectations are held for a Howard Arkley: Stucco House (1988) emerging for the first time since its original showing. A lovely landscape in Picardy by E. Phillips Fox is accompanied, as it were, by a street scene, The Market, Caudebec (1903) by his wife, Ethel Carrick. There is a major work by Frederick McCubbin: The Bathers (1906), which has also been unseen in public for more than one hundred years.
In these strange times, we take pleasure wherever we can. Delighting in beauty may yet be the most revolutionary act of all.
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