One of Sidney Nolan’s classic Ned Kelly series of paintings has been sold at auction for close to $1 million.
Auction house Sotheby’s said it was delighted with the results from its offering of 69 lots in Melbourne from traditional, modern and contemporary art, which achieved a total sale of $4.276 million yesterday.
The jewel in the sale was Nolan’s painting Ned Kelly: Crossing the River, which sold in a telephone bid to a private collector for $960,000.
Sotheby’s was expecting the 1955 piece to fetch between $800,000 and $1.2 million.
A spokesman for Sotheby’s would not say whether the collector is Australian.
The piece, from Nolan’s second Ned Kelly series, was sold by his daughter Jinx Nolan, who has hung the painting in her home in the US for decades.
It has not been seen publicly since Nolan’s wife Cynthia exhibited it in Sydney in 1975.
In 2010, another of Nolan’s Kelly series, the 1946 piece First-Class Marksman, sold for an Australian record $5.4 million.
Yesterday’s auction set four new artist auction records and strong bidding pushed several works to sell above their estimated range.
Two superb examples by Jeffrey Smart achieved impressive results.
The New School II (2004) sold for $456,000 (estimate $400,000-600,000) while Reflected Arrows (1974) sold for $324,000 (estimate $150,000-250,000).
Reflected Arrows was the poster image for Smart’s 1999 retrospective exhibition at the Art Gallery of New South Wales.