After more than 40 years, Sotheby’s have scrapped their annual sale at Gleneagles and will now hold biannual sales of Scottish art in London.
The decision emerged days after Christie’s announced a radical shake-up of their picture sales which has led to the demise of their specialist sales of Scottish or Irish art.
Sotheby’s have conducted sales at the Gleneagles Hotel in Perthshire since 1967 – out-of-season events held at the five-star resort hotel in August in advance of the grouse-shooting season. Sporting guns in anticipation of the Glorious Twelfth were offered alongside Scottish and related art and many records for Landseer, Breanski, Vettriano and the Colourists were established there.
The sales developed to become annual showcases for Scottish art, pottery, silver, jewellery and animalier bronzes – categories that have been steadily trimmed over the past decade as Sotheby’s looked towards minimum lot value thresholds.
Sotheby’s held their last sale of Wemyss at Gleneagles in 2006, by which time a number of Scottish salerooms were holding flagship sales in August.
Their April sales of Scottish art formerly at Edinburgh venues (Hopetoun House and latterly the Assembly Rooms) have also moved to London, the first held in Bond Street on April 29.
Sotheby’s decision, which follows Christie’s in moving Scottish art to London, risks creating the impression that the major houses are downgrading the importance of Scottish art buyers, although it essentially reflects the advent of remote bidding and the international nature of the Scottish market that is increasingly focused on 20th century pictures rather than Highland landscapes.
“I think it’s a great pity… but I can see how they have come to their conclusion,” said Guy Peploe, grandson of the Scottish Colourist Samuel John Peploe and director of the Scottish Gallery of Dundas Street, Edinburgh. He has been attending the Gleneagles sales for close to 25 years.
Sotheby’s hope to show Scottish pictures in Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Glasgow before they go under the hammer in London. The next sale is scheduled for September.
Modern and vintage sporting guns specialist Gavin Gardiner, who conducts sales in association with Sotheby’s, will continue to hold sales at Gleneagles, the next on August 24.
• Sighthill, Edinburgh-based auctioneers Shapes are moving into a larger, purpose-built saleroom beside the existing premises on Bankhead Avenue. Contact 0131 453 3222.