Back in the spotlight – the most valuable Australian photo ever sold
Take a stab at what would be the most valuable Australian photograph ever sold. A Bill Henson? Max Dupain’s Sunbaker?
As of November last year it is Vale Street, by Melburnian Carol Jerrems, taken in St Kilda in 1975. A print sold for $122,000 ($100,000 hammer price) at a Sotheby’s Australia auction – more than 10 times the previous record for the artist, and more than double the pre-auction estimate of $30,000-$50,000.
If you’re surprised, you’re in good company. The director of the National Gallery of Australia was, too.
But the photograph will be familiar to many even if they don’t know its provenance. It exists in just nine known prints (Jerrems died in 1980, aged 30), and is a typically instinctive, intimate portrait by the street photography-inspired artist.
It was also a visual prophecy. Out of the shadows, Jerrems is leaving her male contemporaries in the shade.