For 40 years, the Cbus Collection of Australian Art made valuable and much-loved Australian works of art accessible to Cbus members and the Australian public.

This Collection was a unique collaboration between Cbus and well-known figures in the art world, notably renowned Australian art advisor and collector Dr Joseph Brown AO OBE, who saw that Australian art was under-valued and shared a vision to invest in part of Australia’s cultural history. 

Advised by Dr Brown, the Collection was built up in the 1990s and early 2000s. Over 300 works were acquired and loaned to Australian regional galleries.

We thank our partners in managing this Collection, led by the Latrobe Regional Gallery, and all the many regional galleries that have lovingly displayed these works over the years. 

Cbus is proud of its heritage and past decisions to invest in cultural history, and we are thankful to have had the opportunity to be custodians of such an extraordinary collection of Australia’s colonial, traditional, modern, contemporary and Aboriginal art over the past 40 years. Cbus pays tribute to our past trustees for their vision in establishing this Collection. 

Cbus’ decision to auction this Collection now affords a wonderful opportunity for Australia’s art community, collectors and investors.


Established in 1992, the Cbus (then BUS) Collection of Australian Art emerged following an approach to the industry superannuation fund by legendary artworld figures, Dr Joseph Brown AO OBE and Professor Bernard Smith at the end of the 1980s. Their concern was that in the then economic environment, Australian art was significantly undervalued with the result that overseas collectors were buying major works which they believed should remain in Australia. Accordingly, acquiring a Collection not only offered sound investment potential but importantly, would contribute to the preservation of Australia’s artistic heritage. After lengthy discussions and consideration of art as a long-term investment, in 1990 the Trustee Board decided to invest in Indigenous, colonial and representative art of the twentieth century. By 2007, the Collection had closed to new acquisitions.

Demonstrating a remarkable gesture of faith in the cultural as well as fiscal value of Australian art, the Cbus patronage was informed by the keen eye and extraordinary connoisseurship of Dr Brown as sole art advisor. Strategically optimising the number of artists included by generally limiting representation to a single work (although certain artists have been acquired in greater depth to offer a more comprehensive view), the Collection features major works by most of the greats of Australian art history, from Colonial artists William Piguenit and Eugene Von Guérard to Impressionists Arthur Streeton, Tom Roberts and Frederick McCubbin; modernists including Margaret Preston, Clarice Beckett and Dorrit Black; classic moderns including Russell Drysdale, Fred Williams and Sidney Nolan and more contemporary figures including Jeffrey Smart, John Olsen and Rosalie Gascoigne. Indigenous artists from remote communities in Western Australia and the Northern Territory are also represented, such as Johnny Warangkula Tjupurrula, Anatjari Tjakamarra, Yala Yala Gibbs Tjungurrayi and Pansy Napangardi.

A passionate advocate for equality of access to arts and culture, Dr Brown made it a condition of his involvement in the Cbus Collection that the works be loaned to selected regional galleries for an indefinite period. As a result, a fascinating quality of the Collection has been its dispersed location across several regional galleries in eastern Australia, with most of the works permanently accessible to audiences who do not have the same cultural opportunities as available in large metropolitan areas – specifically, Latrobe Regional Gallery (responsible for managing the whole Collection), and public galleries in Wollongong, Newcastle, Geelong, Broken Hill, Bendigo, Gippsland, and the Mornington Peninsula, as well as the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, Launceston, Tasmania. 

Over the years, the Collection has been featured in several dedicated travelling exhibitions organised by the Latrobe Regional Gallery including A New World (2009), which was accompanied by a sumptuous hardcover publication showcasing the Collection; Figurative Works from the Cbus Collection (2012), and Dawn to Dusk: Landscapes from the Cbus Collection of Australian Art (2014).
Selected works from the Collection have also been included in many major exhibitions and retrospectives on individual artists, and in 1991, Cbus acquired all the works from the important exhibition of Papunya Tula artists, Friendly Country – Friendly People which toured south-eastern Australia during 1991 – 1992.

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Brian Dunlop
(1938 – 2009)
Portrait of Dr Joseph Brown, 1991
Commissioned by Cbus in 1991
© Brian Dunlop/Copyright Agency 2022
Deutscher + Hackett is honoured to be afforded the opportunity to present the prestigious Cbus Collection for sale. Representing 160 years of Australia’s rich cultural history, from the colonial era through to contemporary, the Cbus Collection will be offered through the current live auction in Melbourne on 27 July 2022 featuring a selection of 100 Highlights, and the following three dedicated online auctions scheduled throughout August 2022:
PART II: Modern + Contemporary Art from the Cbus Collection of Important Australian Art
Online Thursday 4 – Tuesday 9 August, closing 7 pm
PART III: Traditional + Modern Art from the Cbus Collection of Important Australian Art
Thursday 11 – Tuesday 16 August, closing 7 pm
PART IV: Indigenous Art from the Cbus Collection of Important Australian Art
Thursday 18 – Tuesday 23 August, closing 7 pm