As expected, the financial stars on December 7 came from the Scottish Colourists – the progressive quartet of painters who played a key role in the development of Modernism in the early 20th century.
Top lot in the 117-lot sale was George Leslie Hunter’s (1877-1931)A Still Life of Fruit and Flowers with Persian Curtain. The 2ft 3in x 22in (68 x 56cm) oil on board dates from the high point of Hunter’s career in the mid-1920s, when his canvases were particularly vibrant and bold in both composition and colour.
The auction house reported strong bidding on the phone and in the saleroom, before it was knocked down at £180,000, above the £100,000-150,000 guide.
Another Colourist highlight was The Blue Mountain, a 2ft 1in x 2ft 6in (63 x 76cm) oil on canvas by FCB Cadell (1883-1937). Depicting the tiny Scottish island of Iona, the oil was fresh to the market and sold on top estimate at £60,000.
However, attracting fewer bids was Cadell’s Portrait Study of Nan Ivory, a 19 x 15in (47 x 39cm) pre-war work. More Edwardian in style than his usual subjects, it scrapped away below the £80,000-120,000 guide at £65,000.
Lavery on course
Buying was more selective at Sotheby’s (25/20/12% buyer’s premium), where 109 lots of Scottish art were offered in a dedicated sale in London on November 21.
The £1.35m sale was 58% (63 lots) sold. Among the top-sellers was a North Berwick golfing scene by John Lavery (1856-1941), part of a popular group of pictures on the same theme painted by the artist from 1919-22.
Dated 1922, the 2ft 1in x 2ft 6in (63 x 76cm) oil on canvas had been acquired by the vendor back in November 1992 for £18,000 hammer. At Sotheby’s, it sold on bottom estimate for £150,000 to a US private buyer – a good return for the vendor, although not as much as what some other Lavery golfing scenes have achieved.
The sale was led by another Hunter still-life, formerly with the Richard Green gallery in London. Like L&T’s slightly larger example, Still Life of Pink Roses with Fruit and a Glass is also thought to have dated from the mid-1920s. It sold to a UK private buyer on bottom estimate at £200,000.