• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 7482

    Modern and Contemporary Australian Art Including Works by New Zealand and South African Artists

    12 December 2007, London, King Street

  • Lot 34

    John de Burgh Perceval (1923-2000)

    The Rosstown Pub

    Price Realised  


    John de Burgh Perceval (1923-2000)
    The Rosstown Pub
    signed and dated 'Perceval '44' (lower right)
    oil and tempera on cheesecloth on cardboard laid down on board
    25¼ x 29¾in. (64 x 75.5cm.)

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    Presumably signed and dated in August 1986 when Perceval sold the present picture, along with Nativity No. 1 (1947) and The Butcher's Shop (1948) to the present owner (for which see Christie's, Melbourne, 19 April 2005, lots 129 and 35). As noted by Traudi Allen, '... doubt may generally be cast on the dates shown on the 1943-44 works, even if a month is given, as a number were dated later.' (T. Allen, John Perceval, Melbourne, 1992, p.47)

    A self-taught artist, Perceval joined the Australian Army Survey Corps in 1939 until his demob in March 1944. His powerful surrealistic work had attracted attention in Contemporary Art Society exhibitions (from 1942), and would be reproduced by John Reed in Angry Penguins in December 1943. He shared a studio with Arthur Boyd in 1943 and married Arthur's sister Mary in 1944, his painting supported by a stipend of £1 a week from the Reeds. 'Both Boyd and Perceval paint images where the effects of war spill over into the street. Again, as with Tucker, Perceval dramatizes this experience of uncertainty, ambiguity and yet fascination and fear in the visible world. ... At their best Perceval's paintings ... release an extraordinary energy of the imaginative force of fantasy, breaking up the rational order of the senses and the material forms of the visible world. All becomes animated, manic in its excess and expenditure.' (C. Merewether, 'Modernism from the lower depths' in the exhibition catalogue Angry Penguins and Realist Painting in Melbourne in the 1940s, Hayward Gallery, London, 1988, p.75)

    Special Notice

    No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 15% will be added to the buyer's premium which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.


    The artist, until 1986.
    Blue Boy Gallery, Melbourne.

    Pre-Lot Text

    'The painter I think I loved best ... was John Perceval. He was young amongst us old people. He lived always being touched by a palpable pain which was partnered by a seethe of anger.'
    Max Harris



    T. Allen, John Perceval, Melbourne, 1992, Appendix I Catalogue Raisonné 1936-1981, p.149 ('c.1945 THE ROSSTOWN PUB Oil and tempera on cheesecloth on cardboard, laid down on comp. board, 64 x 75.2cm. Unsigned, undated. Drawings on the same subject are dated 1944/5. Prov. The artist (1986))'.