For the past 35 years, Denis Savill has been dominant figure in Australian art, with works by the most famous names gracing a local canvas, from Arthur Boyd, his personal favourite, to Arthur Streeton and Brett Whiteley, passing through the eponymous art gallery he runs in Sydney’s eastern suburbs, as well as its Melbourne offshoot.
Savill estimates he’s bought and sold more than 10,000 works on the secondary market in that time. He’s also been an avid collector in his own right, donating works to state and national galleries along the way.
But the veteran art dealer, who recently turned 75, plans to retire and the end of the year and is also clearing the decks when it comes to both his personal collection and the gallery inventory, which goes up for auction with Sotheby’s on May 10.
The 120-lot auction is a Who’s Who of Australia art, led by Boyd, alongside the likes of Charles Blackman, Donald Friend, Sidney Nolan, Jeffrey Smart, Fred Williams, James Gleeson,
Margaret Olley, Lin Onus, Garry Shead and Brett Whiteley.
A while there are some significant works – the headline piece is Nolan’s 1964 painting River-Bank, estimated by $600,000-900,000 by Sotheby’s, followed a 1959 Charles Blackman worth up to $300,000, and Williams at $280,000 – a surprising number of works have price estimates at $10,000 or under.
Savill says the sale includes a number of works never previously offered for public sale.
“The sale marks a new chapter as I divest my gallery inventory and major works from my private collection,” he said
Sotheby’s Australia chairman Geoffrey Smith called Savill “a towering figure and dominant market force”.
“Denis formed close relationships with many artists and promoted their work beyond the primary market. He led the secondary market and gained a reputation for his passion, faith and commitment to those he considered as the leaders in
Australian art,” Smith said.
The Denis Savill Collection of Australian Art will be sold in Sydney on May 10. The works are being exhibited in Melbourne next week and from May 5-10 in Sydney.
For details see the Sotheby’s website.