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“People do want to put their money into nice accessible pictures,” maintains Chris Brickley of Bonhams Edinburgh (17.5/10% buyer’s premium), whose April 10 mid-season picture sale gave a preview of the success experienced at Sotheby’s Hopetoun House sale four days later by finding buyers for no less than 90 per cent of its 177 lots.

The total of £260,000 was pretty much the same as last year, but significantly this was achieved from 70 fewer lots. Equally significantly, at least two thirds of the lots at this April’s sale were bought by private collectors.

This was all the more encouraging given that all but a handful of lots were mainstream middle-lower range pieces in the £500-5000 range.

The presence of a high proportion of market-fresh lots from two deceased estates was an obvious key to success.

The sale was led by the £10,500 bid by a private buyer for the late, typically formulaic, but enticingly grubby signed and dated 1920 Edward Atkinson Hornel (1864-1933) canvas, top right, of two girls picking primroses, measuring 2ft by 2ft 5 1/2in (62 x 75cm), estimated at £6000-8000. But perhaps more typical of the fare that was so eagerly snapped up by Scottish privates was this market-fresh, 10 1/2in by 12in (27 x 31cm) signed James Watterston Herald (1859-1914) watercolour, bottom right, On the quay, temptingly estimated at a relatively modest £1000-1500. A technically innovative and observant watercolourist who spent most of his life in Arbroath, Herald has an enthusiastic following among Scottish collectors and few were surprised to see this particular example pursued to a quadruple-estimate £3900.