A new auction record for celebrated Australian painter Howard Arkley was set by Bonhams during its Important Australia Art auction in Melbourne on Monday.
A Large House with Fence, 1998, achieved AU$463,600, surpassing the 2007 auction record of AU$401,442 for Family Home, 1988. Selling to a private collector, the work flew past its auction estimate of AU$250,000 – 350,000, attracting strong bidding from a packed saleroom and multiple telephone bidders.
The painting, which measures more than three meters wide and two meters tall, depicts a vividly coloured suburban house and is one of several Arkley works which were inspired by real-life property advertisements. The work was painted one year before Arkley’s untimely death in 1999, and was included in the prestigious 11th Biennale of Sydney. Bonhams chairman Mark Fraser noted that the painting was easily the best work by the artist to come onto the market in the past decade.
“Howard Arkley’s paintings have become important, iconic symbols of urban Australian identity and works of this quality and size don’t appear at auction very often,” he said.
Adding to its cachte, Mr Fraser said, was the fact that the painting is considered the companion piece to Superb + Soli
d, another monumental work painted in the same year. That work is now held in the collection of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia, where it is considered to be a collection highlight.