Sotheby's Australia

A Unique Impression of St Kilda

November 9, 2015

Painted in 1907, St Kilda Pier (1907) by Arthur Streeton is a highly impressionistic composition which perfectly captures the sunlight and breezy scene of ocean, shoreline and sailing boats, together with the men, women and children as they promenade on the pier.  The colours are bright and fresh, a celebration of Streeton’s re-acquaintance with the Australian light after a period of living in Europe the previous decade.

Held in the same private collection since 1919, St Kilda Pier (1907) (estimate $50,000-70,000, lot 29) was originally acquired directly from the artist by Sir Walter Baldwin Spencer – Streeton’s greatest patron.  Last offered for auction in 1919 it was purchased by the present owner’s ancestors for 22 gns. 

One of Australia’s greatest collectors and patrons, Sir Walter Baldwin Spencer is best known for his considerable legacy to Australian anthropology; however, he traversed several disciplines of art, ethnography and science.  He was a trustee of the combined National Gallery of Victoria, Museum Victoria and State Library of Victoria from 1884-1928, and actively promoted the acquisition of historical and contemporary Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australian Art into Australia’s repositories.  As a passionate collector of Australian contemporary art, Spencer was Arthur Streeton’s greatest patron, at one time owning 41 works by the artist.  In August 2015 Sotheby’s Australia sold 4 works from the Spencer Collection that achieved exceptional results, including Unloading Bricks, Kew (1905) for $122,000 against an estimate of $30,000-40,000.

Geoffrey Smith, Chairman of Sotheby’s Australia commented: ‘St Kilda Pier is a unique image in the artist’s career and has not been seen in public for almost half a century.  Included in the Sir Arthur Streeton Survey exhibition at the Adelaide Festival of Arts in March 1968, it was simply titled The Pier, its exact location unidentified.  Through my research for the Arthur Streeton 1867-1943 Catalogue Raisonné, I was able to reinstate the painting with its original title, as well as full provenance and exhibition history.’

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Illustrated
ARTHUR STREETON 1867-1943
St Kilda Pier (1907)
oil on wood panel
18.5 x 24 cm
Estimate $50,000-70,000

 

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