Important Australian + International Fine Art
17 November 2010

Sam Fullbrook

(1922 - 2004)

oil on canvas

106.5 x 96.5 cm

signed with initials lower right: SF

Sold for $72,000 (inc. BP) in Auction 18 - 17 November 2010, Sydney

Mr & Mrs Stanley Houston, New South Wales
Sotheby's, Melbourne, 27 November 1995, lot 63
The Hon. John Lockhart AO, QC, Sydney
On loan to the Federal Court of Australia, Sydney
Deutscher~Menzies, Melbourne, 2 September 2003, lot 94
Philip Bacon Galleries, Brisbane (label attached verso)
Private collection, Brisbane


On loan to the Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, October 1975 (label attached verso)
Sam Fullbrook: Racing Colours, retrospective exhibition, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, 7 June - 24 July 1995, cat. 44 (label attached verso)


St John Moore, F., Sam Fullbrook: Racing Colours, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, 1995, p. 55 (illus.)

Catalogue text

The genesis and first acquisition of Sam Fullbrook's Flowerpiece I, 1973, is inextricably wound up with horse racing. Its inspiration was a large still life painting, Un Desert 1640 by the Dutch painter Jan de Heem, which Fullbrook had seen in The Louvre in the first half of 1973 during a brief visit to Paris. Following good wins at the races in Australia, as Felicity St. J. Moore tells us, Fullbrook decided 'to spend his fiftieth birthday in London viewing major galleries and 'saturating' himself with outstanding paintings...'1 Paris was a side trip, the impact of the de Heem painting being so great that he 'caught the next plane home and headed straight for his studio to paint his own all prima equivalent in pure colour and fresh flowers.'2 The following year Fullbrook exchanged the finished painting for a filly by Sostenuto, leading to buying the racehorse Another Wit and leasing Con Artist. 'It has given me', Fullbrook commented, 'a great interest, attending track gallops and so on and I like the variety of people you meet in the racing fraternity.'3 Fullbrook's racing series was an outcome, together with his portrait Jockey Norman Stephens, which won the artist the 1974 Archibald Prize for portraiture.

While the contrast between horse racing and Flowerpiece I may at first seem great, it is but one fascinating facet of the individuality of this extraordinary artist. Another is the lyricism of his colours, seen at their best in this painting. It is enveloped in such a luminous atmosphere that its colours take on an almost fugitive quality, perfectly allied to the gestural freedom of the brush strokes. While the initial inspiration of traditional Dutch seventeenth still life painting can be sensed, Fullbrook's presentation and mood is entirely his own. Liberty and facility combine with an abstract lyricism in which the image is poised between the figurative and the purely gestural in a work of engaging beauty.

1. Moore, F. St. J., Sam Fullbrook: Racing Colours, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, 1995, p. 12
2. Ibid., p. 55
3. Sam Fullbrook quoted in Moore, op. cit., p. 12