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The Connoisseurs Art Collection

The Connoisseurs Art Collection

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  • Thu 11 Aug ’11, 7:00pm – 10:00pm


The George, 50 Park Tce, Christchurch


All Ages

Ticket Information:

  • Free Admission

Related Artists:

Toss Woollaston

The Connoisseurs Art Collection from Watson's Specialist Auctioneers and Valuers, Christchurch, New Zealand.

Opening preview: Thursday 4th August at 6.30pm

In 1947 the eminent modernist architect Mies van der Rohe made his famous statement “Less is More”, words that could aptly be applied to the enticing selection in this sale. Whilst comprising just 25 works of varied media by 18 different artists the choice includes an array of quality works. The selection is all the more remarkable when it is considered that there is a representation from almost every decade since the beginning of the nineteenth century to the present. However it is also very much a Canterbury-oriented sale and contains no fewer than 13 works by the finest Canterbury artists of both local and national significance. Artists like; W A. Sutton, Doris Lusk, Rudolf Gopas, M T. Woollaston, Michael Eaton, Trevor Moffitt and Quentin MacFarlane.

Many of the works in the catalogue by these artists date from the 1960s which is one of the most fertile, and sought after, periods in New Zealand art. It is a lineup to satisfy all tastes. As with most art sales, works have been mainly sourced from private collections but there is also a noteworthy suite of etchings by the doyen printmaker Barry Cleavin being offered out of the corporate collection of Buddle Findlay. This suite from the ‘Allegations’ series was also published as a book in 1988 and is one of the most impressive by this artist.

Among the works prominent from private collectors are several that once belonged to the late Dame Jean Herbison (1923 -2007) and her sister Ruth. Dame Jean had an illustrious career in education spanning many decades took a keen interest in contemporary Canterbury artists.

In contrast some of the earliest works in this sale come from the collection of Mt Cook Station, which was established by the Burnett family in 1864. Of importance among the works offered from this collection is statuary after Bertel Thorvalden and Antonia Canova, two of the most acclaimed European neoclassical sculptors of the early 19th century. Of equal importance from this collection is an historically significant watercolour by the colonial New Zealand artist William Henry Raworth. Despite the strength of New Zealand content two special works by arguably Europe’s most celebrated 20th century designer, Erté (Romain de Tirtoff), stand out. Erté, whose career extended over more than seven decades, also illustrated for Harpers Bazaar from 1915 to 1937. Between the two World Wars when Erté’s career was at its height he designed costumes, jewellery and sets for many of the most important ballet, theatre and film productions of his time.

Even though Christchurch has experienced almost 12 months of continuous natural disaster the enthusiasm that Cantabrians have for the arts has not been daunted. The period of enforced recess the art community has gone through recently has offered time to reflect on how rich the heritage of art and artists in our region has been, and still continues to be.

Over the past two decades Canterbury has certainly lost many of its major twentieth century artists, several of whom are represented in the present sale, although with their passing others have taken their place. Every year a new crop of graduates emerge from the University of Canterbury School of Fine Arts and Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology, and whilst not all will become major artists, it all bodes well for the future.

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