Brett Whiteley painting's $6m sale smashes Sidney Nolan auction record

Kelly Burke
·1-min read

A major Brett Whiteley painting set a new Australian art record on Thursday evening, fetching $6.136m at auction.

Henri’s Armchair, from the artist’s famous Lavender Bay series, surpassed the previous record of $5.4m for Sidney Nolan’s First-class Marksman from his Ned Kelly series, which was bought by the Art Gallery of New South Wales in 2010.

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The painting was sold to an unnamed Sydney private art collector during the Menzies Art Brands auction in Sydney.

The seller was Elizabeth Evatt, widow of the renowned barrister Clive Evatt QC, who bought the painting directly from the artist in 1975, a year after it was created.

Until recently the 195cm-by-302cm canvas – made of oil, ink and charcoal – hung in Evatt’s home in Turramurra.

Henri’s Armchair was Whiteley’s nod to the French impressionist Henri Matisse, who once said art should “be something like a good armchair in which to rest from physical fatigue”.