John Passmore

Girl With Corn Hair

Deutscher and Hackett

Two Important Private Collections

8 December 2021

Lot 36

In the difficult post-war period John Passmore was a welcome inspiration for the new generation of Sydney trained artists such as Yvonne Audette, John Olsen, and Brett Whiteley. From an earlier time and genre, Passmore's ability to analyse the creative process locates him with respected contemporary teachers like John Baldessari or Kiki Smith. While teaching obligations might have restricted his own output, there are particular works which demonstrate his progressive influence for the time. Girl with Corn Hair announces the antipodean arrival of Cezanne. It's difficult to imagine published images of the European's work were difficult to source in 1950's Australia. Amongst those available were Soviet texts on art history, usually printed in basic monotone. His years in England as an RAF conscript gave Passmore the opportunity to study Cezanne's analytical approach to modern painting. Absent from recent auctions, this work's highlighted by broad patches of lemon yellow enabling the blues and greens of the bathers to recede toward an illusory spatial depth. Like Cezanne, the subjects are integrated in the landscape with carefully considered colour values and a variety of directional brushstroke. Passmore's desire to generate and dissolve his forms was another step in Sydney's intermittent adoption of modernist abstraction. Auction estimate (AU $20,000-$30,000)

Price realised at auction: AU $36,818


Deutscher and Hackett

Twenty Classics of Australian Art

11 November 2020

Lot 14

A major work from an artist whose reputation continues to grow amongst serious collectors of Australian art. Executed in 1952, this energetic composition refers to a western tradition of portraying youthful bathers in a natural setting. The modernist master was obviously Cezanne whose innovative rendering of form was balanced against the evocative appeal of the subject. Passmore's work demonstrates similar restraint, the exuberance of his adolescent group being offset by analytical draftsmanship and a restrained yet complex pallette of greyish green. While teaching around Sydney, Passmore became a lasting influence for many of his students, including John Olsen and Brett Whiteley. While later generations were able to portray the optimism of Australia, Passmore's take is perhaps restrained by the cautious uncertainty of his time. The auction estimate (AU $60,000-80,000).

Price realised at auction: AU $67,500

Sir David Wilkie, R.A.     Queen Victoria on horseback: a sketch


Old Masters Evening Sale

7 December 2021