FOUR WORKS FROM THE COLLECTION OF LOUIS ABRAHAMS (LOTS 3-6) Louis Abrahams was a member of the first of the celebrated Australian artists' camps, first recorded in camp with Tom Roberts and Frederick McCubbin at Box Hill in March 1886. Works from Abrahams's own collection show the extent of his immediate connections with fellow students and artists in the vanguard of 'plein air' painting through the 1880s. In spite of these close associations, Abrahams would not make a career in art, to his regret, spending more time in the 1890s in the family business of B. Sniders and Abrahams, Cigar Manufacturers (the business would later supply the Heidelberg artists with cigar box lids as supports). A wealthy businessman, Abrahams collected the works of his contemporaries. The following pictures from his and his wife's collection record his friendship with Tom Roberts, Arthur Streeton, and Julian Rossi Ashton. For further works from the Abrahams family collection, which record his friendships with McCubbin and Mather, see Christie's (London), 12 Dec. 2007, lot 25 (McCubbin's Sawing Timber), and 26 Sept. 2013, lot 16 (Mather's The artist at his easel, 1877) and lot 22 (McCubbin's Bush Idyll). Louis married Golda Fig Brasch in Sydney in March 1888 and Roberts, who had been a witness at the wedding, painted a Whistlerian portrait of her in his studio in Grosvenor Chambers in Collins Street (where Abrahams also kept a studio) as a wedding present after their return to Melbourne (NGV 1650-4). The portrait is clearly a companion to the previously unrecorded portrait of Louis painted by Roberts in 1886 (lot 4 below). In 1890 McCubbin named his first son Louis for Abrahams and Louis and Golda would reciprocate, naming their son Frederick. Abrahams was an occasional exhibitor and later, with his wife Golda, an amateur sketcher, made weekend excursions to the camp at Heidelberg, but he was gradually drawn away from painting by his duties with the family firm of B. Sniders and Abrahams, cigar retailers, in Lonsdale Street (the firm providing many of the cigar box lids used by the Heidelberg artists for their '9x5' impressions). The Abrahams' continued to stay in touch with their artist friends, hosting soirées at their mansion in Kew, and, funded by their successful cigar business, Louis and his brother Lewis, as well as Golda, were important patrons and collectors of the Heidelberg artists and their plein air precursors and followers. In September 1903 Louis himself had offered to fund a trip to London with McCubbin. Suffering from depression and having long regretted his lost métier, and the carefree bachelor days in camp with 'The Proff' and 'Bulldog', Louis Abrahams shot himself months later so the trip never went ahead. Louis's widow Golda bought McCubbin's Sawing Timber at McCubbin's Guild Hall exhibition in March 1907, and this and other sales from the exhibition finally enabled McCubbin to take his one and only European tour in the same year. Some of the Abrahams' purchases, including McCubbin's A Bush Idyll and At Macedon, were sold at auction in Melbourne in 1919 (Australian Pictures Collected by the Late Louis Abrahams and others, Decoration Co., 15 August 1919: 'Amongst the patrons of Australian Art in its early stages the names of the two brothers Lawrence and Louis Abrahams stand very prominent. The brothers were intimately associated with many of the earlier artists, and their collections were naturally very similar in character. Art lovers will, therefore, now have the opportunity of acquiring good examples of the work of Streeton, McCubbin, Conder, Davies, Hilder, Longstaff, Heysen and others whose names are household words in the world of Australian Art.' (Foreword to the auction catalogue)). THE PROPERTY OF A FAMILY He returned to Melbourne about 1886 with a few 'impressions' painted in London, and also with a splendidly painted head 'A Spanish Beauty' technically second to no head painted by an Australian artist. Arthur Streeton quoted in Croll, 1935.
A Spanish beauty (1883-84)