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Australian Fine Art From the Julian and Miriam Sterling Collection

A celebrated Melbourne collection of iconic Australian paintings is set to be one of the highlights of the coming winter auction season. Retired veteran Melbourne dealer Julian Sterling and his wife Miriam have consigned their celebrated private collection of six major pictures to the August 26 Fine Art sale at Bonhams & Goodman. The collection includes John Russell’s Belle Ile en Mer, one of this country’s most famous impressionist paintings.

john-russell.jpgIn 1886 the young Australian expatriate, John Russell, was sketching on the craggy cliffs of a remote French island when he came across an older artist hard at work. Immediately recognising his style he asked, “Ne seriez vous Claude Monet, le prince des impressionists?” [Are you Claude Monet, the Prince of the Impressionists?]. Flattered and amused by this approach, Monet allowed the young artist to paint with him. Monet was preparing for the exhibition of his remarkable series of paintings of the rocks and sea at Belle-Ile, astounding the Parisian artworld when he first showed them the following year. John Russell left the security of Paris to become the first foreigner to settle on Belle-Ile, building a fabulous manor house which evolved into an artist’s “summer camp” where he played host to Auguste Rodin and Henri Matisse, whom Russell is said to have mentored. 116 years later, one of Australia’s premier museums, Art Gallery of New South Wales, launched the blockbuster exhibition, Belle-Ile: Monet, Russell & Matisse in Brittany, where Russell was referred to as the “lost Impressionist”.

One of John Russell’s most significant Belle Ile paintings is the star attraction in the forthcoming sale, Masterpieces of Australian Art from The Julian & Miriam Sterling Collection, to be held at Bonhams & Goodman’s Melbourne rooms on Tuesday 26 August at 6.45pm. Belle Ile en Mer 1904 (pictured) has long been regarded as one of Russell’s most acclaimed images and is amongst the most sumptuous and revered of all his beloved Belle Ile subjects. It is offered for public sale for the first time in almost forty years. The inclusion of the Julian and Miriam Sterling Collection in the scheduled August sale will push the total Bonhams & Goodman pre-sale estimate to AUD$7.2mil – $10mil, making it the most significant sale conducted by Bonhams in Australia to date.

The Sterling collection is the subject of a special stand alone catalogue to compliment the 83 lot catalogue of numerous major traditional, modern and contemporary icons of Australian art, many of which are offered for the first time by deceased estates and private collectors. Highlights of the Australian Fine art sale includes Frederick McCubbin’s 1890 masterpiece of the Heidelberg School, Summer Morning, Kew, a suite of four rare Melbourne beach scenes from the 1940s by Sidney Nolan, estimated at $200,000-300,000 each, and Arthur Boyd’s haunting 1960 painting, Bride in the Moonlight, estimated at $400,000-600,000.

Sale Details:
Australian Fine Art & Masterpieces of Australian Art from the Julian and Miriam Sterling Collection
Tuesday 26 August at 6.45pm
Level 1/540 Malvern Road
Prahran VIC 3181

John Russell (1858-1930)
Belle Ile en Mer 1904
oil on canvas
60 x 73cm
Signed and dated ‘JOHN RUSSELL BELLE-ILE-EN-MER 1904’ lower centre
Estimate on Request

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