A Small Unsigned Painting
"A true-life detective story set in the Australian art world, around the life of one of Australia's most famous painters, Lloyd Rees.
"Stephen Scheding, art collector and historian, buys a small painting of a boatshed at an auction in Melbourne. The painting is unsigned, but his first response is that it is a painting by Lloyd Rees from the 1920s.
"A Small Unsigned Painting is the story of his attempts to authenticate the painting, from tracking clues in the painting and on its frame, to X-rays (which reveal a surprising 'signature'), to investigatons of possible past owners of the painting (uncovering a story of lost love and tragic death in the process), to an examination of the life of Lyoyd Rees and his contemporaries and the coming of modernism to Sydney in the 1920s..
"Told as a personal diary of the author's quest to find the artist, the book is not only a whodunit but a fascinating and immensely readable piece of art history and an insight into how works of art are evaluated.
"You may never look at a painting in quite the same way again."
About the Author:
Stephen Scheding wrote A Small Unsigned Painting over a period of amost five years. During that time he also wrote and illustrated three childrens' books: Uncle Mick's Magic Trick (for getting rid of monsters) in 1995; Ten Thousand Sheep (get driven home) in 1997; and King Gilbert (the indolent), to be published in 1998.
Stephen lives in Sydney with his wife and their son.
First Paragraph from the Preface:
A few years ago, after twenty-five years of collecting Australian paintings, I decided to put virtually my entire collection, consisting of about 100 works, up for auction at Sotheby's in Sydney. At the time I had been diagnosed as an incurable collector. Collecting had become an addiction. My particular narcotic was collecting and researching paintings by lesser-known Australian artists. The images I collected tended to be, on the quirky, 'cerebral' side. I was particularly interested in artists working in Sydney between the wars who appeared to be covertly expressing the 'modern', psychological spirit of the times while working stylistically within a realist tradition imposed by the current conservative forces. The collection was also atypical in that it included more female artists than male artists. The art historian and critic Joanna Mendelssohn once kindly wrote in a Sydney Morning Herald review of a small exhibition I had organised, that 'one of the pleasures of observing Stephen Scheding over the years is his ability to winkle out quality works by artists who are usually seen as mere footnotes in the canon of art history'.
From the Vintage paperback edition, 1998.
This page and its contents are copyright © 2001 by Perry Middlemiss, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.Return to Larrikin Literature Page.
Last modified: September 20, 2001.