The Musician, a Surrealist-style 22 x 15in (56 x 38cm) pen, ink and watercolour of a Harlequin made from architectural features, playing a mandolin, had not been seen since the 1950s. It was bought by the London trade at £6000 against strong underbidding from an Australian gallery.
Sainthill is considered one of the most successful Australian expatriate artists of the post-Second World War period, and worked with the Ballets Russe, the Kirsova Ballet and Ballet Rambert.
Of Sainthill’s imaginative style, the renowned Australian actor and theatre director John Bell (b.1940) said: “It was exotic, wildly imaginative, extravagant and sensual and, what’s more, the man could draw – a facility not universal among theatre designers.”
More than 130 of his works, mostly depicting costume designs, have been offered at auction to date, typically fetching in the four to low five-figure sums.