This set of ‘Knives and Forks’ could be yours for $400,000

Gabriella Coslovich, Australian Financial Review, 27 April 2022

A major John Brack painting from the collection of the late philanthropists Sir James and Lady (Sheila) Cruthers is the headline work in Deutscher and Hackett’s May auction, which goes on view in Sydney on Thursday. The still-life painting, Knives and Forks, 1958, has an estimate of $400,000 to $600,000, and is a precursor of the marching pencils and card paintings that Brack would create in the 1970s and ’80s.

The painting was last exhibited at the National Gallery of Victoria's 2009 John Brack Retrospective, which toured to the Art Gallery of South Australia. lt was on loan from the Perth couple; who were key figures in the arts and media.

Lady Cruthers was a champion of women's art long before the current trend, and Sir James set up Western Australia's first television station before becoming a personal adviser to media tycoon Rupert Murdoch.

Knives and Forks has remained in the Cruthers family and is on the market for the first time since 1992, when the couple bought it from Deutscher Fine Art, Chris Deutscher's previous business before his entree into the auction trade.

The May 4 auction will be the first that Deutscher and Hackett has held in Sydney in three years. During the worst of the pandemic, the company bunkered down in Melbourne and conducted all of its auctions there. The 82-lot sale, estimated at a total of between $45 million and $6.4 million, also includes works by current market favourites Arthur Streeton, Clarice Beckett, Cressida Campbell, Margaret Preston and Ben Quilty and some surprises.