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The loss of an important art icon for Newcastle - William Dobell's ‘Storm approaching Wangi’

CHG Director Mark Widdup

This week saw the loss of an important art icon for Newcastle when the Sotheby's Australia important art auction produced some outstanding results. Record prices were achieved for some of the top end Australian art names. One of which was the sale of an important William Dobell oil painting from 1948 ‘Storm approaching Wangi’ for $408,700!
The market is hot for fresh artworks bringing back the halcyon days of the mid 1980’s art sales!

Overall a significant sales tally of $8,529,630 with buyer’s premium; was achieved at Sotheby’s Australia auction on Wednesday this week, 23rd November. The key collectable lots being the drivers for this solid sales result!

William Dobell Storm Approaching Wangi
Storm Approaching Wangi | William Dobell | 1948 | Oil on board | 32.9 56 cms

Of significant interest to me was the William Dobell painting which has not been seen since 1964 when it was purchased from the Clune Gallery (now not operating, and dealers for the artist at the time) to a private collection. Years later it changed hands to the selling owner i.e. the corporate collection before this auction.

It is a landscape painting of historically importance becoming more significant as it was a painting that cemented the artist credibility once more after his reputation in the art world was challenged! The controversy of the Archibald prize winner, Joshua Smith painting being in question - as a suitable prize winner in the 1940's arose! The dispute was that 'it was a caricature and not a portrait painting!' An emotional Dobell was shattered with the controversy and extensive publicity that followed. Furthermore an extended court case took its toll on Dobell's health.

The painting winning the Wynne Prize at the Art Gallery NSW in 1948 would have provided much comfort to Dobell after the recent years of turmoil!

In the back of my mind I cannot help but consider this is a painting that should have been been secured for the city of Newcastle or Lake Macquarie! As a substantial regional city, important artworks of this calibre with so much relevance should never escape… Surely an art fund for such offering of this importance needs to be established!

Yours in art,
CHG Director
Mark Widdup

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