THE FOSTER COLLECTION
Welcome to our latest single-owner auction, The Foster Collection, Dendron House, Mount Eliza. We trust you will enjoy leafing through the following pages, where you will find many of the interesting artworks, furnishings and objects of beauty that have surrounded the three generations of the Foster family who have called this magnificent estate their home for most of the 20th Century.
It’s been a couple of months since we drove through the front gates of “Dendron” the amazing Mornington Peninsula mansion built in the 1930’s which has been home to the Foster family for six decades. The early estates in Mount Eliza were often the height of luxury and, with no shortage of space, the genteel Melbournians who built their holiday or retirement retreats there, were able to surround themselves with objects of beauty, with gorgeous panoramas through their windows and a closeness to nature that was already under pressure in the growing suburbs of the city.
It is definitely a bonus when we can confirm that an item we are offering in one of our sales is “new to the market”. How much more so when that can be said of every item in a collection? Every lot in this sale has been with the family for decades; the earliest invoices we found were from the 1950s and the latest from the 1970s and the vendor, the grandson of the original Dr. Foster, recalls that many of the items came with the family when they arrived from England in the 1930s.
We were delighted to observe that, despite the home having been furnished and decorated many decades ago, the original vision of Dr. Bryan Foster, the present owner’s grandfather, has been maintained. This catalogue contains the artworks, ceramics, furniture and glassware that we found in this wonderful home. We even had access to the receipts and correspondence which still accompany some of the items: The Robert Johnson painting (Lot 142) purchased in 1962 via Robert Hogan Art and accompanied by a note from the artist; the James Wigley “Dinner Time” (Lot 152) purchased in 1965 from South Yarra Gallery in William St., South Yarra; the pair of English Hepplewhite mahogany bookcases (Lot 26) purchased from Windsor Antiques, October, 1963.; and a fine set of six English mahogany spade back Trafalgar chairs (Lot 37), with 1957 purchase receipt from George McPhee Antiques, Malvern Rd., to mention just a few.
It is interesting to see the transition from English and European subjects in the artworks, to the Australian images that commanded such important positions in the home. Lot 126, Arthur Boyd’s iconic Wimmera image from his important 1950s series has not been seen in public since it was acquired nearly seven decades ago.
So too, the even more dramatic Lot 127, the startling “Miners’ Revenge, Broken Hill”, by Pro Hart, painted in 1964 and acquired by Dr. Foster in 1970. Undoubtedly one of Hart’s most important pictures, it stands in stark contrast to his later, light-hearted celebrations of country life – fishing in the river, a country football or cricket match, mates enjoying a beer at the end of the day, or his landscape and wildlife studies. Here is the young Pro Hart, in his mid-thirties, and very early in his career, creating a picture deeply rooted in the real and tragic history of conflict between the Indigenous community of the Broken Hill area, and the white men who had occupied their lands. He has chosen to depict a shocking and shameful episode in which at least fourteen tribesmen were murdered in retaliation for the killing of a single sheep. This was a controversial subject for an aspirational artist to create in the early 1960s.
We look forward to assisting you with any enquiries and welcoming you during the viewings at our rooms.
The Leski Auctions Team
018-025 Clocks & Timepieces
121-156 Paintings & Artworks
157-160 Rugs, Carpets & Textiles
161-198 Porcelain & Ceramics
207-215 Decorative Arts – General