Max Dupain, the 20th Century photographer, gave Australia one of its greatest images, Sunbaker, quite by accident.
“We were camping down the south coast and one my friends leapt out of the surf and slammed down onto the beach to have a sunbake – marvellous,” Dupain said of the image he took nearly 80 years ago.
In a career spanning nearly six decades, Dupain, who was born in Sydney in 1911, and died in 1992, captured the city he loved, from famous beaches such as Manly, Newport and Bondi, to the landscape and its architecture, alongside portraits of famous people of the era, nudes, flowers and experimental modernist photos.
More than 500 photos from Dupain’s personal archive are going up for auction this weekend in what Mossgreen CEO Paul Sumner says is the most valuable and important photographic collection ever to be auctioned in Australia.
Dupain’s son Rex, also a photographer of renown, is selling the works, which are expected to fetch more than $1 million, with his 1937 work Sunbaker, carrying a price estimate of $20,000-30,000.
The auction also heralds the Melbourne auction house’s move into Sydney, with a new exhibition space and auction rooms at 36-40 Queen Street, Woollahra.
The Dupain images will be on show to the public for viewing from Friday, June 17, until the auction this Sunday, June 19, at noon.
The full auction catalogue of all 500 works is here.
Among those works, here are 25 incredible images of a Sydney now long gone, that many people have never seen before.
Wynyard Park with the AWA Tower on the right. Completed in 1939, the 46 metres radio tower, atop a 55-metre high Art Deco building was tallest structure in Sydney's CBD until the 1960s. It remains part of the city landscape (and featured in The Matrix) but is now dwarfed by its surrounds. Photo: Max Dupain, courtesy of Mossgreen
Utzon's masterpiece on Bennelong Point had only just begun. The road leading there is now a pedestrian thoroughfare, the buildings replaced by apartments. Photo: Max Dupain, courtesy of Mossgreen
William Street, heading out of the city, is on the right past the Kings Cross hotel, turning into Darlinghurst Road before the traffic sweeps left into Bayswater Road. Photo: Max Dupain, courtesy of Mossgreen
Yes, that's Circular Quay. The wharf in the foreground is roughly where the Park Hyatt now stands, the buildings front right are now restaurants, and the Overseas Passenger Terminal now sits on the waterfront. Photo: Max Dupain, courtesy of Mossgreen
Undated, and again from the Southern Pylon of the bridge, but probably from the 50s, because work on the Overseas Passenger Terminal was completed in 1958. Photo: Max Dupain, courtesy of Mossgreen
From George Street, looking up to the Sydney Hospital in Macquarie Street, with the GPO on the right, undated. The area was pedestrianised in the 1970s. Photo: Max Dupain, courtesy of Mossgreen
Harry Seidler's George St tower, which turns 50 next year, was the city's tallest building and Dupain was a good friend of the architect, using the height to capture the southern end of the Harbour Bridge, looking down to Walsh Bay. Photo: Max Dupain, courtesy of Mossgreen
Looking southwest from the top of Central Station's clock tower towards the southern end of George St to where it turns into Broadway. In the distance is the old brewery and its chimneys, now the Central Park apartment tower. Photo: Max Dupain, courtesy of Mossgreen
George Street, looking towards the QVB, with the town hall on the left, two rare and prominent surviving buildings from 19th century Sydney. Photo: Max Dupain, courtesy of Mossgreen
Dupain's title for this work is misleading. The image was taken in Edgecliff. That's Rushcutter's Bay on the right, Kings Cross behind it (that's the former Gazebo hotel, mid upper right in the picture), looking towards the city. On the left is the start of the eastern suburbs railway line. Photo: Max Dupain, courtesy of Mossgreen
Looking towards the CBD, probably late 30s. You can see Customs House at Circular Quay on the left. The building to its left is now the AMP. Photo: Max Dupain, courtesy of Mossgreen
Harry Seidler's 228 metres-high MLC Centre opened in Martin Place in 1977, and held the record as Australia's tallest building for 9 years. It was also the world's tallest building outside of the USA at the time. Photo: Max Dupain, courtesy of Mossgreen
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